THIS I BELIEVE II is Tennessee Tech University’s 2016 #CommonReading Book!

Tennessee Technological University has selected This I Believe II as their 2016 Common Read Book!

All incoming first-year students are required to read This I Believe II this fall, and other university and community members are also invited to participate. Each first-year student will receive a copy of the book in their University Connections course in the fall.

In addition to participating in classroom discussions about This I Believe II‘s themes, students will also have the opportunity to meet Dan Gediman when he visits Tennessee Tech in the fall. Gediman will give a keynote speech discussing his role in the preparation and selection of essays for This I Believe and This I Believe II, and he will host a mini-workshop to assist students in developing their own “This I Believe” essay. Following the workshop and the completion of their “This I Believe” essays, students will be invited to submit their essays for inclusion in Tennessee Tech’s own “This I Believe” collection. The essay collection will be published after the fall semester.

Sister Helen Prejean, who contributed an essay to This I Believe IIis also expected to be on campus in the fall as part of Tennessee Tech’s Center Stage lecture series. Additional events are still being planned and more information is to come.

This I Believe II was selected for Tennessee Tech’s Common Book program primarily because of its diverse array of narratives, perspectives, and experiences. “We feel This I Believe II allows readers to experience a variety of events, cultures, and different beliefs through relatively short essays,” explained Allen Mullis, Common Book committee chair and director of Orientation and Student Success. “Unlike previous Common Book selections, students can open up any page and begin reading essays from people of all walks of life.”

This is the fifth year of Tennessee Tech’s Common Book program. Each year, a book is selected by a committee of faculty and staff, who read a selection of books that have been submitted through an online form. All university community members are able to submit book suggestions. The primary goal of this program is to create a shared reading experience for all incoming first-year students, faculty, and many university community members. The Common Book program also seeks to:

  • Challenge students to broaden their personal perspectives through participation in a university and community-wide conversation.
  • Introduce students to contemporary global issues.
  • Develop intellectual engagement inside and outside of the classroom.
  • Create a foundation for students to explore values and ethics.
  • Provide an introduction to the educational experience at Tennessee Tech.

Click here to see other schools that have adopted This I Believe IIand its predecessor, This I Believe. Visit our Popular Picks page for more common reading options from Macmillan!

This I Believe II • Picador • 288 pages

Barry University’s 2013-2014 Common Reader is Don’t Shoot

Barry University has named David M. Kennedy’s Don’t Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America as the Common Reader for the upcoming academic year. This summer, all incoming students will read the book as they prepare for their first semester at the university. Don’t Shoot will be assigned reading in many first-year courses this fall.

The Common Reader program gives new students one shared intellectual experience so they begin to connect with one another early on, no matter what their academic interests. Each year, the Common Reader is selected by the General Education Curriculum Committee—14 of faculty members who teach the core courses (writing, theology, philosophy, literature, fine arts, history, sociology, political science, math, and science).

The committee seeks out a compelling book that has broad appeal and is relevant or applicable to students or to their college experience. As many Americans try to understand the widespread violence in our country and its cultural, ethical, political, and economic causes and effects, Kennedy’s book will help Barry students “understand the personal and social commitments necessary to address social problems and to accept responsibility for developing communities based on an ethic of care and concern for others.”

In October, Don’t Shoot will be at the center of a one-day mini-conference, “Reclaiming Community from a Culture of Violence.” Author David M. Kennedy will give the keynote address. The day will also include panel presentations and discussions, guest speakers from local community-based agencies, film screenings, service opportunities.

In past years, Barry University has adopted This I Believe and This I Believe II, essay collections both edited by Jay Alison and Dan Gediman, and Paul Loeb’s Soul of a Citizen. Click here to see all the schools that have adopted these and other Popular Picks for first-year reading from Macmillan.

Don’t Shoot • Bloomsbury • 336 pages

Why Not Read Now? Southern Connecticut State University Reads This I Believe

“Why not read now?” asks Southern Connecticut State University, which most recently selected This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women, for its common book program, Southern Reads.

Last summer, when new SCSU students attended Orientation, they each received a copy of the book from the university’s Hilton C. Buley library. The library provided the books for all first-year students, as it has every summer since the program’s inception in 2010.

Students began reading right away with a short overnight assignment while they stayed on campus for New Student Orientation. On the second day of NSO, they got a preview of the college seminar experience in “mock classroom” session, where they completed reading comprehension self-assessments and discussed the book with peers and faculty.

Why Not Read Now? is designed to inspire Southern freshmen, faculty, staff, and students to open their minds by opening a common book over the summer and getting prepared to come back in the fall ready to think about it, write about it, talk about it, and listen to what others have to say about it.

About Why Not Read Now? Southern Reads

After NSO, students took This I Believe home to finish reading and continue to “reflect on the fundamental values that guide their lives,” before returning to campus to begin classes in September.

For most first-year students, those classes included Inquiry, part of SCSU’s Liberal Education curriculum. Part learning community, part college transition workshop, part composition course, Inquiry brings students together in groups of about 20—an instant network of peers. Faculty from a variety of academic departments teach two complementary seminars: Critical Thinking and INQ 101: Introduction to Intellectual and Creative Inquiry.

scsu student this i believe tee copy

Students created custom “I believe…” statement t-shirts! (via SCSU FYE on Facebook)

Critical Thinking “helps prepare students to identify problems and to think effectively about their solutions . . . These skills are necessary for active learning and independent thinking; they are also essential for academic success and good decision-making in students’ personal, professional and public lives.”

In INQ 101, students focus “on essentials like reading, writing, thinking, research and inquiry skills, and frameworks for building an academic habit of mind—in other words, thinking like a college student.” Here, they’ll have opportunities to think, speak, and write about This I Believe and about their own beliefs and values.

Beyond the classroom, SCSU recognized and celebrated beliefs and values with a campus visit and book discussions by This I Believe co-editor Dan Gediman, a lecture series featuring campus leaders from the student body and the SCSU faculty, and an art exhibition in honor of the university’s new President.

Several university offices sponsored a This I Believe essay contest and accepted entries in four categories: first-year students, returning students graduate students, and faculty and staff. Meanwhile, the university held open Creative Writing Workshops for anyone working on an essay for the contest. In December, the winners read their essays for a standing room only audience on campus!

Click here to read about some of the other schools that have adopted This I Believe or This I Believe II for common reading programs!

This I Believe • Picador • 320 pages

This I Believe is the Summer Reading Book at Seton Hall University

Seton Hall University has selected This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women for the 2012 Summer Reading Program! First-year students will pick up copies of the book at the campus bookstore when they attend summer orientation sessions in June.

When they return to campus in the fall, new freshmen will use the book in two introductory courses: Engl 1201: Core English I and Core 1001: University Life. Core English I is First Year Writing course that emphasizes “the writing and reading processes of expository and persuasive rhetoric/argument,” including research, pre-writing, revising, and grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary. As part of the course requirements, Core English students take advantage of academic resources on campus, including one-on-one sessions with peer tutors and the university’s Writing Center.

University Life is a Freshman Studies seminar that “aims to provide students with academic and personal success; integrate computer technology into academic instruction; familiarize students with University resources and opportunities; improve reading, writing, and analytical skills and support the University mission of “forming students to be servant leaders in a global society.” Components of the course include classroom discussions and activities, creating an online writing portfolio, attendance at multi-cultural and interdisciplinary events on campus, community service, and participation in a university club or organization.

Click here to read about some of the other schools that have adopted This I Believe or This I Believe II for common reading programs!

This I Believe • Holt Paperbacks • 320 pages

For the Second Year, Virginia Tech Selects This I Believe II for the Common Book Project

For the second year in a row, Virginia Tech’s Common Book Project selection is This I Believe II: More Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women. Every first-year student will receive a free copy of the book featuring the university’s signature VT on the cover and a letter Vice President and Dean of Undergraduate Education inside.

The collection of essays “resonated strongly with members of the student body as well as faculty.” Among the seventy-five essayists are musicians Yo-Yo Ma and Béla Fleck, Nobel Prize Winner Elie Wiesel, the founder of the online community, an anthropology student at the University of Chicago, a diner waitress, and an Iraq War veteran.

Editors Dan Gediman and Jay Allison collaborated to revive Edward R. Murrow’s 1950s radio program, This I Believe, and then brought selected essays from the airwaves to press in This I Believe II and its preceding volume, This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women. The collections both include pieces from the original 1950s series as well as contemporary submissions. The books also contain questions for discussion and a guide to writing one’s own This I Believe statement.

VTech's HokieBird Reads THIS I BELIEVE II

VTech’s HokieBird Reads This I Believe II

Many Virginia Tech Hokies did write personal belief essays; some students opted to express their beliefs in audio or video presentations. Students believe in diversity, puppies, dancing, trust and respect in relationships, helping others, literacy, and much, much more. This I Believe projects of all kinds were published through Blogs@VT, the university’s own network of blogs by members of the VT community.

The goal is for all students—from engineering to English majors—to discuss and learn from the same book, creating a common thread in the undergraduate experience.

Office of First Year Experiences, Virginia Tech

Read more about VTech’s annual Common Book Project here.

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 50 schools! Click here to see other colleges and universities that have adopted these Popular Picks from Macmillan.

This I Believe II • Picador • 288 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

Roberts Wesleyan College Reads This I Believe

This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women is Robert Wesleyan College’s choice for the 2011 campus-wide reading program, Roberts Reads. The book will be assigned reading in all sections of the First-Year Seminar and the Senior Seminar; these two required courses serve as bookends to each student’s academic experience.

Though the program is geared toward first-year and senior students, the whole college is encouraged to participate. Faculty will assign This I Believe in Communication, Education, English, and Liberal Arts courses as well. The Roberts Reads program aims to “challenge students to learn about diverse disciplines . . . to develop essential skills, such as writing, critical thinking; and communication; and to discover countless connections among varied academic disciplines, learning experiences, and faith perspectives.”

The 2010 Roberts Reads title was Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption; Jennifer Thompson-Cannino spoke about advocacy for judicial reform on campus last November. Dan Gediman, public radio veteran and co-editor of two collections of “This I Believe” essays, will visit Roberts Wesleyan to speak this fall.

To see a list of other schools that have adopted This I Believe or the second volume of essays, This I Believe II, as well as other Popular Picks from Macmillan, click here.

This I Believe • Holt Paperbacks • 320 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

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