Justice is the 2011 Common Reading Book at Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University has chosen Michael J. Sandel’s Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? for the 2011 Common Reading Program.  Members of the incoming Class of 2015 will all receive a copy of the book when they visit campus for three-day New Student Orientation in July and August.

Students will read the book this summer, and they’ll have the opportunity to enter the annual Common Reading Program Essay Contest by responding to this prompt:

In your own words, describe the purpose(s) of American universities. Then, using some of the philosophical perspectives examined in Michel J. Sandel’s Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? decide if these purposes are just.

The winners, who’ll be announced in the fall, will receive a $300 University Bookstore gift certificate!

In August, first-years will return to campus for Welcome Days, a time for new students, and returning upperclassmen, as well, to connect and reconnect with the Case community through academic and social programming.

In addition to Meet the Faculty seminars, practical campus info sessions, a community service day called Case Connects!, and social activities like a Welcome Back Dance and an all-campus concert, new students will gather in small groups to discuss Justice during their first Share the Vision event.

Share the Vision is an ongoing initiative to “promote a just and humane campus for all.”  For 21 years, Case has been striving, as a campus community, to:

  • support the worth and dignity of each individual
  • respect new ideas and encourage examination and discussion of differing opinions
  • appreciate and enjoy our rich cultural, ethnic and racial diversity
  • reach for excellence and integrity in teaching, scholarship, research and service
  • promote justice and compassion on our campus and in our world
Through annual events like MLK Week, the Faculty/Staff vs. Student Basketball Game, and the Student Leadership Awards, and weekly events like non-traditional SatCo (short for Saturday College) experiential courses and workshops, and Community Hour forums, Case supports and celebrates the same principles that Michael Sandel writes about in Justice.

The author will visit Case and give the keynote address at University Convocation.  Here, Professor Sandel puts justice in terms of flutes, golf, and same-sex marriage at the TED2010 Conference in February 2010.

(For a quick snapshot of the twenty-minute lecture, watch at 7:30-8:45 when the audience joins Sandel in a debate about the 2001 Supreme Court case PGA Tour, Inc. v. Martin.)

Last year, the Class of 2014 read Elizabeth Royte’s Bottlemania for the CWRU Common Reading Program.  The book tied in with the campus-wide Year of Water effort, during which the university implemented new and enduring water conservation measures and was recognized regionally and nationally for its accomplishments.

Justice • Farrar, Straus & Giroux Paperbacks • 320 pages

University of Kentucky Selects No Impact Man for the Common Reading Experience

The University of Kentucky has selected Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man for the 2011 Common Reading Experience! All incoming students will receive a copy, customized with the UK Common Reading Experience logo on the cover and an introductory letter from the president of the university bound into the front pages. They’ll read the book this summer and arrive on campus in the fall ready to discuss No Impact Man—the book, the author, the philosophy, and the initiative—with faculty, staff, and upperclass student leaders.

Discussion groups will meet during K Week, UK’s welcome week for new Wildcats, held before fall classes begin. To help break the ice among new classmates, students will bring the assignment they’ll have completed over the summer: a QLC reading response that poses three questions:

Q – Indicate your favorite quote from the book, and explain why.
L – Indicate what life lesson you have taken away from the reading.
C – Indicate which character or person in the book with whom you most identify, and explain why.

This approachable assignment will get students engaged with No Impact Man and help them collect their thoughts about the book as they read. Their prepared responses will become a natural foundation for conversations that could continue throughout the school year.

The programs and events planned to surround the book by the CRE Programming Advisory Board and the UK Office of Sustainability will provide plenty of opportunities to continue those conversations. A farmer’s market, several film screenings, and a visit to campus by Colin “No Impact Man” Beavan himself are on the schedule, along with a host of events to take place during “Make an Impact!” Week in September. “Make an Impact!” Week, UK’s spin on the No Impact Experiment, is a series of themed days that each emphasize a different conservation challenge: Energy, Water, Transportation, Food, and Service.

The University will also host its fifth annual Big Blue Goes Green showcase to promote “current and on-going sustainability-related efforts at UK, and to recognize the work of the individuals and departments or units responsible for these programs.” Students can lunch on a locally-grown meal prepared by UK Dining Services and find out how they can get involved.

Students are already reading No Impact Man, and they’re already getting excited about the No Impact philosophy!  Civil Engineering major Jordan Ellis prepares his roommates-to-be for a semester of trash-free fun on Twitter:

More schools that have adopted No Impact Man for common reading programs are listed here. Read about other schools that have taken on the No Impact Experiment challenge here at Macmillan Reads or at NoImpactProject.org.

No Impact Man • Picador • 288 pages

Bucknell University’s Class of 2015 Reads This I Believe

New Bison heading to Bucknell University as members of the Class of 2015 are all reading This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women this summer!  The university sent copies of the book to first-year students this summer; students will discuss the book in small groups during Orientation in August.

Those discussions will be lead by Foundation Seminar faculty from all areas of the university.  Foundation Seminars are small, writing-intensive courses that focus on a wide variety of topics, mirroring the themes of Bucknell’s seven Residential Colleges: Arts, Environment, Global, Humanities, Languages & Cultures, Social Justice, and Society & Technology.

Whatever the topics, [Foundation Seminars] are designed to cultivate the attitudes, skills, and knowledge necessary for students to benefit maximally from a Bucknell University education and to negotiate the complexities of the modern world. The seminars stress active, independent and engaged learning, and development of skills students need in order to engage in intellectual endeavors at Bucknell and beyond.

Bucknell University Course Catalog: Foundation Seminar

Every first-year student enrolls in a Foundation Seminar; the discussion of This I Believe during orientation will be the first opportunity for them to meet with their classmates and instructor.  Emily Burnett, Class of 2015, shares her perspective on the Foundation Seminar at Bucknell’s student blog, A Year in the Life

The book will also be central to SLIF 99: Transition to College, a required student life workshop lead by a faculty member and a Peer Instructor.

Beyond the classroom, Bucknell invites all faculty, staff and students to submit an essay or a video about their own beliefs for a collective university archive online. Ten entries by members of the class of 2015 will be awarded $50 gift cards to the Bucknell University Bookstore.

Provost Mick Smyer isn’t eligible for that prize, but he did write an essay and recorded a video about his lifelong belief in the kindness of strangers:

This I Believe and This I Believe II, both collections of essays based on the NPR program of the same name, are two of Macmillan’s most Popular Picks for common reading.  Click here to see the other schools that have used the books.

This I Believe • Holt Paperbacks • 320 pages

Update: “This I Believe” Essay Contest Winners Create Video Essays

Bucknell has named the winners of the “This I Believe” essay contest! The top essays are published here: What Do You Believe? Winning Entries

In keeping with the multimedia traditions of the “This I Believe” radio program, several first-years recorded video essays. Hear the students read their essays here: Videos: This I Believe