Field Notes from a Catastrophe and Elizabeth Kolbert at St. Mary’s College of Maryland

This summer, as they prepared and packed for their first year at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, first-year students were also reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe. All incoming students were required to read the book in one of several interdisciplinary first-year seminars this semester. Faculty members were also encouraged to adopt the book in other courses throughout the 2009-2010 academic year.

The two major goals of the common reading program are to show new students that, “In the academy, conversations and actions should be grounded in text, regardless of discipline [and] to challenge the way that academic and social life are assumed to be separate.” So, as a tie-in to the common reading program, the author will speak on campus next week, addressing all members of the first-year class as “guest lecturer” for their introductory seminars. Related campus programming, including a series of campus wide events called the “Environmental Action Symposium,” will continue through this semester.

Learn more about the Summer Reading Program at St. Mary’s College of Maryland here.

Field Notes from a Catastrophe has been a common book in recent years at Linfield College, Mount Holyoke College, SUNY, Oswego, and Vassar College.

Freshman English Students at University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point Read Nickel and Dimed

Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On [Not] Getting by in America has become a favorite of common reading programs in colleges, high schools, libraries, and communities all over the country.

The Freshman English Program at University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point is one of many programs using the book in this academic year. Nickel and Dimed will be assigned in all sections of Freshman English this fall and next spring.  All students are required to take the course, which emphasizes practice in research and composition. By the end of the Spring 2010 semester, every member of the class of 2013 will have read, discussed, and written about the book.

The 10th anniversary edition of Nickel and Dimed, with a new afterword by the author, was published in 2008. Read more about the book here.

Ms. Ehrenreich’s latest work, Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, will be available from Macmillan this month.