Kennesaw State Selects Sandel’s Justice for the Second Year

Each year, the Department of First-Year Programs at Kennesaw State University selects a book that will be the common reader assigned in all First-Year Seminars. When they chose Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? for the 2012-2013 program, there were no plans to extend the selection over two years.

But the book was such a success that it’s been named the 2013-2014 common reader, as well.

Jim Davis, Assistant Professor of Theatre & Performance Studies and Chair of the Common Reader Selection Committee for the Department of First-Year Programs, writes, “the book worked so well with the class we decided to do it again . . . It’s served us really well.”

In the fall, first-year students will enroll in one of Kennesaw’s four First-Year Seminars: KSU 1101: Traditional Seminar, KSU 1111: Globally Focused Seminar, KSU 1121: Community Engagement Seminar, or KSU 1200: Leadership Development Seminar. Justice will be assigned reading in all of these classes.

Every new student takes a first-year seminar, either as an independent three-credit course or as part of a Learning Community, which is a group of “20-25 first-semester students who co-enroll in two or more courses that are linked together with a common theme.” These choices offer freedom and flexibility to a student body with diverse interests and goals, and all the seminars aim to develop students’ “life skills, strategies for academic success, campus and community connections, and foundations for global learning.”

For instance, Professor Davis’ seminar is part of a Learning Community for Theatre & Performance Studies majors. Last fall, he “used [Justice] as a starting point for a series of performances based on how the students were handling the election year.” Practicing “techniques of ethnography, theater-for-social-change and improvisational theater,” students produced performances pieces that reflected some of the specific issues and questions presented in the book as well as the reality of facing those issues and questions as young adults and new college students.

Re-Generation Initiative at Kennesaw State University from Kennesaw State on Vimeo.

In the past, KSU has also adopted Paul Loeb’s Soul of a Citizen and Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone for the common reading program. Click here to see the other schools that have adopted these Popular Picks for common reading from Macmillan!

Justice • Farrar, Straus & Giroux Paperbacks • 320 pages

Sandel’s Justice is the Common Reader at Kennesaw State University

Michael J. Sandel’s Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? is the 2012 Common Reader at Kennesaw State University. In the fall, first-year students will enroll in one of four of Kennesaw’s First-Year Seminars: KSU 1101: The traditional seminar, KSU 1111: The globally-focused seminar, KSU 1121: The community service seminar, or KSU 1200: The leadership development seminar. Click here for details about the four different courses

Every first-year must take a seminar, either as an independent three-credit course or as part of a themed combination of courses called a Learning Community, but the choices offer freedom and flexibility.This curriculum is designed to appeal to a student body with diverse interests and goals, but all the seminars aim to develop students’ “life skills, strategies for academic success, campus and community connections, and foundations for global learning,” and Justice will be assigned reading in every class.

By reading the same book and discussing it in class, as well as attending related events on campus throughout the academic year, students will have a variety of opportunities to achieve KSU’s objectives for the program. They will:

  • gain reinforcement of the first-year seminar learning outcomes by participating in this program
  • engage in reading
  • join their peers in a common academic experience
  • be able to demonstrate a knowledge of academic, political, social, and world issues
  • explore the development of their individual identities
  • develop multicultural awareness

The Common Reader is an initiative of the KSU Department of First-Year Programs, a team of educators and administrators that also coordinates the First-Year Seminar and Learning Community programs and provides year-round support for the first-year class. One of their unique offerings is IT 2101: Computers and Your World, a digital literacy course for students who want to practice using and explore computing technologies.

Previous Common Readers at KSU include Paul Loeb’s Soul of a Citizen and Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone. Click here to see the other schools that have adopted these Popular Picks for common reading from Macmillan!

Justice • Farrar, Straus & Giroux Paperbacks • 320 pages

Our Boys is the 2012 iRead Book at Washburn University

Joe Drape’s Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen is the 2012 iRead book at Washburn University.

The Washburn campus in Topeka is about 200 miles from Smith Center, Kansas, where New York Times sportswriter Joe Drape moved with his family to get a community perspective on the small town football team with the nation’s longest high-school winning streak. The author is slated to speak at Washburn in September 2012.

The iRead common reading program is one component of Washburn’s First Year Experience curriculum. First-year students will read the book in IS 110: The Washburn Experience, a student success course that focuses on focuses upon information literacy, effective communication, academic integrity, and the transition into the college experience.

The broader goals of the iRead program are to:

  • Enhance the campus community
  • Uphold the university mission of “learning for a lifetime”
  • Advocate the goals of the Washburn Transformational Experience
  • Create a common experience for students
  • Foster involvement and inclusivity as early as possible
  • Enrich and expand the minds of students

Previous iRead books at Washburn include A Long Way GoneNickel and Dimed, and This I BelieveClick here to see the other schools that have adopted these books and other Popular Picks from Macmillan!

Our Boys • St. Martin’s Griffin • 320 pages

Macmillan’s Common Reading March Madness Picks!

Colleges and universities of all sizes in all regions are gearing up for the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament and Macmillan wants in on the bracketology!

Click for a closer look:

Macmillan is not affiliated with the NCAA, ESPN, or HP. Bracket Source: ESPN

Since I’m all about selecting winning books for common reading, I based my bracket picks on the schools that have adopted Macmillan titles for their programs. When neither school had—at least, not this season!—I went with the lower seed (those picks are noted in black). When Macmillan adopters went head to head, I used seed positions to make my predictions, as well.

I proposed the common reading bracket with tongue in cheek, but my little experiment has been fun and informative. Here we have a whole new perspective on the trends and the diversity in common reading selections at schools across the country.

As you can see, the competitors are very well read!

In the East, Ohio State is the favorite with Elie Wiesel’s Night, Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, and Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man. First Four victor Clemson has previously adopted Ron Rash’s novel One Foot in Eden, and they’ll be reading his Saints at the River this fall. Common reader MVP No Impact Man is the Fall 2011 book at the University of Kentucky. Nickel and Dimed has been the common reading title at both UNC, Chapel Hill and Syracuse University. The UNC Tarheels have also read Picking Cotton and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, while Syracuse has adopted A Long Way Gone. The University of Washington represents with Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe.

Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone dominates in the West, where the universities of Texas and Tennessee have both selected the book. Hampton University first-year students have been reading Daniel Black’s They Tell Me of a Home just this year and Temple’s have read Elie Wiesel’s Night. Number two seed San Diego State University has adopted Ray C. Anderson’s Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist.

Next, we go to the Southwest, where Boston University has favorites Nickel and Dimed and A Long Way Gone on its roster. The University of Illinois has also adopted Nickel and Dimed and the University of Akron has chosen A Long Way Gone. Class Matters has been read campus-wide at the University of Richmond, while Saint Peter’s has adopted Night. Florida State students submitted their own “This I Believe” essays when the university picked This I Believe—how many of the Seminoles wrote about basketball?

Finally, in the Southeast, University of Pittsburgh students have read Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Utah State has adopted Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone and Wofford College freshmen have read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and Ron Rash’s One Foot in Eden. Students in the University of Wisconsin system, from Parkside to Marathon County, have read everything from This I Believe II to Deep Economy; I hope they’re all united behind the Badgers from Madison! But can sixth-seed Saint John’s take Katharine Weber’s Triangle all the way to the championship?

The Big Dance begins tomorrow—what book are you rooting for?

P.S. For more unconventional bracketology for academics, check out The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Tweed Madness!

Henderson State University Picks A Long Way Gone for the 2011 Common Book Program

Henderson State University has adopted Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier for their 2011 Common Book Program!  Freshman students will each receive a copy when they visit campus for Heart Start, a two-day orientation program held throughout the summer.

In the fall, the book will be required reading in the First Year Experience transition course, the Henderson Seminar. The seminar’s objectives are to:

—Introduce students to the Henderson experience and to the liberal arts
—Develop among first year students a community of learners
—Inform new students of the many opportunities available at HSU
—Improve academic skills and strategies
—Promote meaningful discussions of campus and personal issues

Beyond the classroom, HSU is planning a series of all-campus events related to A Long Way Gone and the issues raised in the book.  The highlight will be Ishmael Beah‘s campus visit in September. All Henderson students, especially freshmen, will be encouraged to attend the author’s lecture, “A Long Way Gone: A Story of Redemption and Hope.”

Each year, the Common Book is selected by a panel of Henderson faculty and administrators from all areas of the university. The committee seeks titles that are readable, relevant, and engaging for students and have interdisciplinary applications in the curriculum.

A Long Way Gone at Henderson State University, Fall 2011

A Long Way Gone is one of Macmillan’s most Popular Picks for common reading programs!   Henderson State University is one of more than fifty colleges and universities to adopt the book, to date.

A Long Way Gone • Sarah Crichton Books • 240 pages

A Long Way Gone is the 2010 Common Text at Wright State University

Wright State University’s 2010 Common Text is A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier.  The university is giving a copy of the book to each member of the class of 2014 at Orientation sessions throughout the summer. The Common Text program was established:

—To expose students to WSU’s academic atmosphere from the time they arrive on campus for Orientation
—To provide a common academic experience for all first-year students by giving them the opportunity to engage with peers in intellectual discussions both inside and outside the classroom.
—To communicate the expectation that students will begin to read actively and critically, make judgments about the validity of what they read and be able to discuss challenging, sometimes conflicting, ideas.

Author Ishmael Beah will speak at Freshman Convocation, held when students arrive on campus in September. Beah’s address will kick off this year’s Presidential Lecture Series, which aims “to advance human justice and promote the university’s commitment to creating a diverse university community and learning environment.”

This year, the university has established a Common Text Essay Contest and invited first-year students to select and write on a theme and passage from the book.  The winner will be announced during the Freshman Convocation ceremony.

Later in the fall, Wright State University will host a Campus Big Read event—read-a-thon style!  Beginning at 8:30am on Wednesday, November 3, students, campus officials, and local celebrities will read passages from A Long Way Gone for 10-15 minutes before handing the book off to the next reader.  It’s an opportunity to unite the campus community while raising awareness for the plight of child soldiers.

A Long Way Gone will be central to many First-Year Seminars this year, as well as courses in WSU’s Learning Community program, which links General Education courses with specific seminars or fields of study.  Students who share similar interests or majors take at least two classes together, which affords a network of new friends and study partners while they make the transition to college life.

Previous Common Text selections at Wright State University include An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It and Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in AmericaClick here to see a list of other colleges and universities that have adopted Macmillan’s Popular Picks for common reading programs!

A Long Way Gone • Sarah Crichton Books • 240 pages


Ishmael Beah and his editor, Sarah Crichton, spoke recently about where he’s been and what he’s been doing since his memoir was published in 2007.

Crichton: I find it tremendously moving how the book keeps finding a larger and larger audience. So many high-school and college students read it.

Beah: Yes, more and more schools keep assigning it, and I keep meeting teachers who say, “This is the first time this kid has ever finished reading a book.” It is beyond my own comprehension. The book has a life of its own.

Read the complete interview at Work in Progress.

The Housekeeper and the Professor Selected for CCBC’s 2010-11 Community Book Connection

The Community College of Baltimore County has selected Yoko Ogawa’s The Housekeeper and the Professor for the 2010 – 2011 Community Book Connection.

Shortlisted by a selection committee, the novel was ultimately chosen by votes from the whole college community. According to the college, “passionate and vocal lobbying in and around CCBC is highly encouraged.”  Faculty at all of CCBC’s campuses will be urged to adopt the book in their courses this coming year.

A series of cultural and academic events related to the book’s interdisciplinary themes (especially the joy and value of learning, extracurricular applications of mathematics, and the science and psychology of memory), meant to enhance the intellectual climate of the college, is in the works.

The act of reading is one of the essential pursuits of the fully educated human being. When we engage in reading, research, and reflection, we are forever enriched, becoming more powerful, perceptive people . . . When we read, discuss, and reflect together, we get to know each other and become more sensitive to the details, not only in the work at hand, but also in the way that it is perceived by others equipped with a differently focused lens . . . What we choose to read and interpret defines our values and our commitments to the larger world . . . It is with these basic ideas about the value of reading that we created the Community Book Connection.

Kim Jensen, Chair of the CCBC Community Book Connection Committee

The Community Book Connection is a faculty-initiated program designed and organized by people who believe that classroom learning is inextricably linked to real-life social issues and concerns. The Community College of Baltimore County selected A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier for the program in 2009.

The Housekeeper and the Professor • Picador • 192 pages

No Impact Man Selected for the Common Reading Experience at UNC, Wilmington

Colin Beavan’s book, No Impact Man is the common reading book at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington this fall!

The primary goal of UNCW’s Common Reading Experience (known as the Synergy program) is to introduce first-year students to academic expectations and intellectual engagement and encourage self-reflection and critical thinking through a meaningful common reading experience with peers and faculty.

Check out UNC, Wilmington’s student readers guide, including the book’s themes, reflection questions, and Colin’s six guidelines for a low impact life.

As part of the new student orientation program, the university will send all incoming first-years their own copy of No Impact Man, customized with a letter from Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo. Students will use the book in their Freshman Seminar course in the fall.

For one year, New Yorker Colin Beavan aka “No Impact Man” and his wife and 2-year-old daughter tried to live without making any net impact on the environment. No Impact Man is his account of the experience and all he found out about the planet—and his place on it—in the course of that year with no trash, no carbon emissions, no toxins in the water, no elevators, no subway, no products in packaging, no plastics, no air conditioning, no TV, no toilets . . .

The entire campus community is invited to participate in the Common Reading Experience.  Lectures, discussion groups, and films related to the book and its themes—sustainability, quality of life, and personal responsibility—will take place on campus throughout the semester.  Perhaps there will be a screening of No Impact Man, the Oscilloscope documentary filmed during the author’s year-long No Impact Experiment?  (Click here for info about screening the film on Earth Day!)

The University of North Carolina, Wilmington adopted A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah for the common reading program in 2009.

Both books are Popular Picks for first-year reading!  Click here to see other colleges and universities that have used them for similar programs.

No Impact Man • Farrar, Straus and Giroux • 288 pages

Update: No Impact Week at UNC, Wilmington!

The University of North Carolina, Wilmington held a campus-wide No Impact Week in September 2010.  Each day was devoted a different area where students could reduce or alter their impact on the planet: Consumption, Trash, Transportation, Food, Energy, Water, and Giving Back.

To kick off the week, Colin Beavan gave the Synergy Common Reading  Keynote Address,  part of the UNCW Leadership Lecture series.  The first common reading author to visit campus, Colin was greeted by a standing room only crowd.

On the Food-themed day UNCW’s Campus Dining and the Housing and Residence Life offices co-sponsored a special event called No Impact Lunch.  Local vendors brought chocolate, hot sauce, and more so students could get a taste for North Carolina’s homegrown products, and Campus Dining served a special menu featuring farm-raised tilapia, smoked turkey quesadillas, and eggplant ratatouille, all prepared with goods purchased locally to minimize impact.

“The No Impact Lunch completely tied in with the book that the students read as well as UNCW’s strategic goal of sustainability . . . Students got to make the connection between the book in a tangible and creative way.”

Rita Gordon, Director of Auxiliary Services, UNC, Wilmington

For its contribution to the No Impact Week initiative, UNC, Wilmington’s Campus Dining services was recognized by the National Association of College and University Food Services!

Colin Beavan invites students and classes to take part in a “No Impact Experiment,” a week-long carbon cleanse that gives readers a chance to see what no-impact living is like. Visit the No Impact Project to find out how it works, watch videos made by previous participants, and receive a How-To Manual.

Case Western Reserve University Selects Bottlemania for the 2010 Common Reading Program

Case Western Reserve University’s class of 2014 will read Elizabeth Royce’s Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It before the students’ first year begins this fall.  The assignment is part of Case Western’s 8-year-old Common Reading Program, which unites new students with the shared reading of one book.

Ultimately, Bottlemania makes a case for protecting public water supplies, for improving our water infrastructure and better allocating the precious drinkable water that remains.”

Bottlemania Selected for 2010 Common Reading Program, Jackie Fitch, CWRU

Bottlemania and its themes will serve as the basis for campus events and interdisciplinary discussions about the commercialization of water in America and the environmental, social, and economic effects of the bottled water trend.  One of those events is an author visit; Elizabeth Royce will give the keynote address at the university’s fall convocation in August.

Case Western will hold an essay contest based on the common reading.  All new students will be eligible to enter a response to a selection of topical writing prompts.

For more on the issues addressed in her book, visit Elizabeth Royte’s blog: Notes on waste, water, whatever

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier was one of the Common Reading Selection Committee’s finalists for 2010.  The committee, comprised of 18 members of the university faculty and staff as well as 10 students, recommends that book to the campus.

Bottlemania • Bloomsbury • 272 pages