The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Virginia has adopted Susan Dworkin’s The Viking in the Wheat Field: A Scientist’s Struggle to Preserve the World’s Harvest for the Common Reading Experience (CRE) this year.
First-year students in the engineering program will pick up the book at the campus store, online, or at a bookstore local to their hometown and read it over the summer. In August, when the new students arrive on campus, peers will meet in small groups lead by a SEAS faculty member to discuss the book. Many professors will also assign it in fall semester courses.
The purpose of the CRE is to encourage fellow first-year students to share personal and professional views and opinions and “discuss the engineering profession and its connection and impact on everyday life in the context of the selected reading . . . While [The Viking in the Wheat Field] is specifically focused on food, the experiences and lessons learned have widespread applicability.”
Since 1993, the SEAS faculty has chosen a book specifically for their engineering students, one that is engaging, highly readable, and presents multiple themes for discussion (technologies, ethics, teamwork, workplace, unusual career paths). Previous selections include Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and John McPhee’s The Control of Nature.
The Viking in the Wheat Field • Walker & Company • 256 pages