Soft Spots is the 2011-2012 Book in Common at Collin College

Clint Van Winkle’s Soft Spots: A Marine’s Memoir of Combat and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the 2011-2012 Book in Common at Collin College. It will be assigned course reading in disciplines throughout the college’s three area campuses, including English and Composition, Sociology, Psychology and Counseling, and others.

Now in its sixth year, the campus-wide Book in Common initiative has become a central part of intellectual life in and around the Collin College community. Planning for this year’s programming is just underway. In previous years, the common book has inspired community service projects, writing workshops, and lecture series. The college has invited author and veteran Clint Van Winkle to speak at their campuses next Spring.

Though spearheaded by the Center for Scholarly and Civic Engagement, the Book in Common is truly a college-wide effort.  The Collin College Libraries participate by offering resources and support to students doing coursework or research related to the book each year.  Faculty members have collaborated to produce an interdisciplinary teaching guide that contextualizes the common book in various areas of study.  Student Life offices on each campus collaborate on related events and activities “that exercise camaraderie in the student body beyond disciplines.”

The program’s District Coordinator, English Professor Betty Bettachi, has said, “The students get so much out of [the common reading program], and they have started to look forward to the new book, asking what the new selection is going to be . . . They love to read the books.”

Watch this page for more details about Soft Spots at Collin College!

Soft Spots • St. Martin’s Griffin • 224 pages

East Carolina University’s 2011-2012 Pirate Read is Picking Cotton

East Carolina University has selected Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton’s Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption for the 2011-2012 Pirate Read common book program!

Incoming first-year students will read Picking Cotton this summer so that they’ll all have the book’s content and context in common with one another, in the classroom and around campus, as soon as they arrive at ECU.  That shared reading experience helps “orient students to the academic community by encouraging intellectual dialogue and critical thinking.”

The book will be assigned reading in courses throughout the ECU curriculum, including first-year composition courses and the Freshman Seminar.  The Pirate Read committee has identified five themes to encourage and help guide discussion, writing, and other coursework that focuses on Picking Cottonevidence, sexual assault and gender power issues, racism within the criminal justice system, memory, and forgiveness and recovery.

A series of co-curricular campus and community activities and events related to the book is in the works as well.  The authors will visit ECU to speak on campus in October.  The Pirate Read will tie in to ECU’s own annual Take Back the Night program, a week-long initiative held on college campuses and in communities nationwide—and around the world—to raise awareness about and take a stand against sexual assault and domestic violence. Learn more about Take Back the Night

Since the first Pirate Read in 2008, a committee of faculty has brainstormed a list of books and made the final selection.  This year, the committee expanded their process, accepting book nominations from ECU faculty, staff and students.  And, for the first time, current students served on the selection committee; their input made the case that Picking Cotton would be the best summer reading material for their incoming peers.

All five of the nominated books were interesting . . . [Picking Cotton] was the favorite . . . We had students who came back and said, ‘I don’t like to read but I couldn’t put this book down.’

Mary Beth Corbin, East Carolina University Office of Student Transitions and First Year Programs, Co-chair of the Pirate Read Committee

To be considered, nominated titles must meet the Pirate Read committee’s criteria. This year, the committee sought a 300-page book that an 18-year-old could read and understand without guidance, that would promote discussions among readers, that is relevant to current issues, and whose author would be available to come and speak on campus.

For more information about Picking Cotton and authors, speakers, and activists Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, click here and visit The Innocence Project.

Picking Cotton • St. Martin’s Griffin • 320 pages

First-Years at Penn State Berks are Choosing Civility

Penn State Berks has selected P.M. Forni’s Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct for the 2011-2012 Common Reading program!

Each year, the Common Reading Steering Committee invites college community members, faculty, staff, and students to nominate books for the following year’s program. From those, the committee identifies a few finalists and asks the Penn State Berks community to vote in an online poll for the best book for the next year’s freshmen. The committee named Choosing Civility a finalist based on the following criteria:

The book should:
—Act as a bridge between students and faculty
—Contain themes for discussion which touch on many different topics
—Appeal to young adults
—Prompt inquiry, reflection, and discourse
—Be available in paperback
—Be lively and engaging reading (highly readable, not too long)

Incoming first-year students are required to read the book before New Student Orientation in the fall. During Welcome Week, First Year Group Leaders will facilitate small group discussions about Choosing Civility and its themes, especially in the context of the Penn State Berks community.

When fall classes commence, Choosing Civility will be a featured text in the First-Year Seminar course, which all new students take in their first year at PSU.  Among the seminar’s core goals are: to set every student up for success at the university level with study strategies, research skills, a sense of academic integrity, and an understanding of PSU’s academic policies and resources; to develop and polish students’ communication skills and establish lines of “communication-across-the-curriculum”; and to promote skills and positive attitudes toward scholarship and seeking knowledge.

Each fall, students everywhere are embarking on a unique journey . . . Not only will you and other first-year students be sharing the joys, frustrations and adventure of attending college for the first time, you will also be drawn together in a more intimate common experience even before you enter the halls of Penn State.”

Why a Common Reading Program?, Penn State Berks

The Common Reading program also incorporates a university-made study guide, guest speakers (including Choosing Civility and The Civility Solution author P.M. Forni, who will visit campus in December), community service and social activities all linked to the book’s content.  Because the shared reading experience is a link between new students and their peers in the classroom and in campus-wide activities, the Common Reading book becomes the foundation for “an intellectual community among first-year learners, returning students, faculty and staff.”

Choosing Civility is one of Macmillan’s Popular Picks for common reading! Click here to see the other schools that have adopted the book.

Choosing Civility • St. Martin’s Griffin • 208 pages