New Hokies Read This I Believe II for the Virginia Tech Common Book Project

This I Believe II: More Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women is the 2011-2012 Common Book Project selection at Virginia Tech!  All first-year students will receive a copy of the book from the university.  These customized books feature the VT logo on the cover and a letter from the Vice President and Dean of Undergraduate Education bound in the front matter.

The annual Common Book Project is one of the first opportunities for new Hokies to engage in VT’s intellectual community.  Its primary objectives are to provide new students with a reading experience in common with their peers and to “provoke conversation among students and their professors.”

The Office of First Year Experiences and the Office of Residential Life collaborate to plan and implement the project. The FYE office has invited Dan Gediman to speak on campus this fall.  Faculty teaching first-year seminars, as well as upper level courses, are encouraged to assign the book in class.  In fact, VT’s Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research offers Common Book Grants of up to $2,000 to faculty who wish to enhance their instruction of the title in the classroom and beyond.

The Common Book Program also extends into residential life on campus.  Resident Advisors will plan and lead activities related to or inspired by This I Believe II to foster connections among new students and establish the dorms as communities for learning and discussion—extensions of VT classrooms.

This I Believe II and its preceding volume, This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women, have been adopted for common reading programs at more than 25 schools. The books were among the most popular common reading picks for the 2010-2011 academic year according to a report by the National Association of Scholars!  Click here to see other colleges and universities that have adopted these Popular Picks from Macmillan.

This I Believe II • Picador • 288 pages

No Impact Man: The 2011 Common Experience at Bowling Green State University

Bowling Green State University has selected Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man for the 2011 Common Reading Experience!  No Impact Man meets this year’s selection criteria, which called for a readable, engaging, and relevant contemporary book about the human condition or human experience, that appeals to both men and women, and is rich in content and themes that challenge students to think critically.

The objectives of the Common Reading Experience are to:

—encourage students to read beyond textbooks.
—raise awareness and tolerance of intergenerational and cultural likenesses and differences.
—promote academic discourse and critical thinking.
—provide an introduction to the expectations of higher education.
—create a sense of community among students, faculty and staff.
—integrate an academic and social experience into the campus community.

The book will be one point of focus of BGSU’s first-year transition course, UNIV1000: The University Success Seminar. UNIV1000 “exposes [first-year students] to the resources of BGSU, diverse cultures and ideas, and promotes the development of intellectual, personal, and social skills that will assist in future semesters at BGSU and beyond.”

No Impact Man will also be incorporated into BGeXperience, a unique values-based orientation program that links the academic and residential aspects of campus life with students’ personal development, recognizing all three as important elements of a fulfilling BGSU experience.  The program is “designed to help students examine their own and others’ values, understand the role values play in decision-making, and learn to make thoughtful decisions about value judgments they make.”  Watch What is BGeX? on Facebook

BGeX also fosters relationships among peers and instructors, including each student’s appointed academic advisor.  Peer Facilitators and Resident Advisors will lead small group discussions about No Impact Man during BGeXperience Introduction, held before classes begin, and many will continue to use the book in BGeX seminars and campus activities throughout the semester.

No Impact Man is an apt choice for BGSU, where green initiatives have been part of campus life for many years.  In fact, the university introduces new students to its campus-wide environmental values through the First Year Orientation program.  In the freshmen’s Survival Guide, Going Green is as important as major dates on the BGSU academic calendar and Campus Lingo!

A Student’s Guide to Green Living at BGSU outlines some of the green programs and policies set in place by Dining Services, Residential Life, Campus Operations, and the Center for Environmental Programs, as well as student organizations like the Environmental Action Group, the Environmental Service Club, and the Environmental Health Group. And students who have new ideas for sustainability initiatives can apply for funding through the Student Green Initiative Fund, established in 2009 to support green projects are proposed and implemented by BGSU students.

BGSU Student Sustainability Involvement

For two consecutive years in 2009 and 2010, Bowling Green State University selected another Popular Pick for the Common Reading Experience: This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women. The BGSU Honors Program participated by inviting students, faculty, and administrators to write an essay of their own sharing the personal philosophies and core values that guide their daily lives. The Honors program published a selection of those essays in a book called Voices and Values in 2010.  Listen to two students’ This I Believe statements

More schools that have adopted No Impact Man and This I Believe for common reading programs are listed here.

No Impact Man • Picador • 288 pages

Eckerd College Seniors Read Eaarth in Quest for Meaning

Common reading experiences aren’t for first-year students alone!  This fall at Eckerd College, the whole Senior Class will read Bill McKibben’s latest book, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet in the capstone course, Quest for Meaning.

As they approach commencement and begin to make post-graduate plans, this course challenges seniors “to ask and seek answers to questions of meaning and purpose in your own life within the context of the greater community.”

Over the course of the semester, they’ll explore the themes of ethics, faith, global perspective, natural environment, humanities, science, the arts, and social science.  Through readings, plenaries, discussions and service projects, students will consider how each theme influences their individual purpose, values, and world view.

Eaarth will be the key reading for the environmental portion of the course, which helps students attain one of the Quest for Meaning’s core objectives: the ability to “reveal an awareness of issues concerning the sustaining of the natural environment.”  Bill McKibben, will visit campus to address the Quest for Meaning students in October.

Seniors will have the opportunity to answer the author’s call to action through the course’s Service Learning component; each year, “students doing their Quest for Meaning project donate valuable hours for the restoration and preservation of Florida natural areas.”  Read about other environmental initiatives at Eckerd College

Click here to read about other schools that have selected green reads (including Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future) and coordinated common reading programs with green themes in order to promote environmental awareness and initiatives on campus.

Eaarth • St. Martin’s Griffin • 288 pages