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

Peace College Class of 2014 Reads The Blue Sweater this Summer

This summer, first-year students at Peace College in Raleigh, North Carolina are reading The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World.  The summer reading at Peace is part of the New Student Orientation program and the first-year student curriculum, Adventures.

Each student will receive a copy of the book when they visit campus for an introductory orientation session this summer.  When they return in August for Pathways, the fall orientation program, they’ll meet with their academic advisers and new peers to discuss the book and its intent.

The summer reading and book discussions are the students’ first assignments in their seminar, Adventures for Women in Learning.  The course gives all first-years the opportunity to find community with their classmates by exploring important academic, social, and ethical issues together.  Through the first-year seminar, students interact regularly with their faculty advisers and peer educators, who co-teach the course and also serve as mentors to new students.

In October, author and founder of the Acumen Fund Jacqueline Novogratz will address first-year students and others from the Peace College community as the 2010 Adventures Speaker.

In 2009, Peace College selected P.M. Forni’s book, Choosing Civility: The Twenty Five Rules of Considerate Conduct, for the incoming class of 2013.  Of that title, Dawn Dillon, who is the Director of Adventures and Residence Life and coordinates the summer reading, said, “Although selected as the reading for the First Year Adventures Program, I feel that it is a great read for all the Peace campus community.”  Dr. Forni was the Adventures Speaker in September 2009.

Click here to see the other colleges and universities that have adopted The Blue Sweater and Choosing Civility, and other Popular Picks, for common reading programs!

The Blue Sweater • Rodale Books • 320 pages

The Short Bus is the 2010 Common Read at University of Idaho

Jonathan Mooney’s The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal is the Common Read title this year at the University of Idaho. The book is assigned as summer reading to all incoming students. Transfer students are also encouraged to participate, as well as all interested faculty and upperclassmen.

The Common Read is an initiative of the Dean of Students and the Teaching and Learning Center. Each year, a committee of faculty, staff, and students chooses a book that is engaging and relevant to the student body.

The program “is designed to help students prepare intellectually and academically for their first semester at the University of Idaho. This coming fall, themes and ideas from the book will be used in CORE curriculum classes, orientation activities, civic engagement activities and across a variety of disciplines.”

Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future was the Common Read title in 2009. It, too, was assigned in CORE courses throughout the 2009-10 academic year, including Associate Professor Lee Vierling’s class in the College of Natural Resources, “The Earth and Our Place On It.” Professor Vierling’s students initiated a service-learning project that “explored connections among biodiversity, deforestation, poverty, community resilience and the social status of women.”

Read more about those students’ project here: Natural Resources Service-Learning Project Promotes Global Environmental Stewardship

How will University of Idaho students apply the principles and themes from Jonathan Mooney‘s book on their campus and in their community this year?

The Short Bus • Holt Paperbacks • 288 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.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is the 2009 First-Year Common Read at Mount Holyoke College

This year, all first-year students at Mount Holyoke College read Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures.

Mount Holyoke’s First-Year Common Read program, which began in 2000, is one component of the college’s orientation program.  Incoming students receive a copy of the book over the summer along with registration and other ‘welcome’ materials.  During orientation in the fall, students come together to discuss the book with their new classmates and student orientation leaders.

The shared reading experience provides a starting point for the first of the many intellectual engagements that will take place both inside and outside the classrooms in four years at Mount Holyoke.

This year, other events surrounding the common read selection included a faculty panel for discussion of the book’s cultural, ethical, and spiritual themes, and a reading and talk given by the author, both open to the whole campus community. Students and faculty contributed their thoughts on a blog dedicated to the common read.

In keeping with the oral tradition of the Hmong people, Mount Holyoke’s Language Resource Center and Library, Information, and Technology Services created Fish Soup, an oral history project that gives first-year students the opportunity to explore and preserve their college’s cultural history.  Students are invited to, with a few guidelines, interview a peer, tell a story of their own, and, if they wish, contribute a recording to the Fish Soup archive.

The Fish Soup project is a unique way for students to gain deeper understanding of their own experiences, hear about their classmates’ backgrounds, and practice using the resources and equipment available in the college library.  Click here to learn more about the project, continuing in 2010.

In previous years, Mount Holyoke has adopted Nickel and Dimed and Field Notes from a Catastrophe for the First-Year Common Read program.  Click here to see lists of other schools that have used these Popular Picks for first-year reading!

New Students at Hawaii Pacific University Read Little Brother

Non-fiction titles, including memoirs and books about societal issues, may be chosen for common reading programs more often, but fictional works with provocative, relevant themes and relatable, or perhaps intriguingly unique characters are good options, too.

This year, Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother was the first work of fiction to be chosen for HPU Reads, the common book program for first-year students at Hawaii Pacific University.

Little Brother is about a tech-savvy teenager who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and becomes a terrorism suspect. His casual objection to being monitored—via his internet use, the school-employed gate sensors, and public transit fast-passes—becomes a critical, life-altering protest. He—and the reader—must ask: Where is the line between public safety and personal freedom?

A committee at HPU selected the novel, as it has selected previous works for HPU Reads, based on the following criteria:

—A connection to global learning
—Appropriate to a wide variety of disciplines and courses
—Suggests a variety of co-curricular events and speakers that will enhance students’ general education experience
—Will sustain discussion for a term, if not for a year.
—Is appropriate for first-year college students.

On Little Brother’s theme, the importance of thinking critically about security, Cory Doctorow wrote, “It’s my sincere hope that this book will spark vigorous discussions about security, liberty, privacy, and free speech—about the values that ennoble us as human beings and give us the dignity to do honor to our species.”  Read the rest of “Security Literacy” here.

Little Brother • Tor Teen • 416 pages

Update 02/10/2010: Click here to become a fan of HPU Reads on Facebook!

University of Wisconsin, Marathon County Selects Deep Economy for Shared Reading

The 2009-2010 Shared Reading title at the University of Wisconsin, Marathon County is Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. The book was selected by a committee of faculty and university administrators with the theme “Building Community” in mind.

Three years ago, when the Shared Reading theme was “Affluenza,” author Bill McKibben gave a capstone address on campus and the committee was eager to revisit McKibben’s work.  The school has enthusiastically incorporated his book into the curriculum and campus programming this year.

UW, Marathon County’s goal is to have each student to encounter the book in at least one course this year. The Shared Reading program committee has planned programming—speakers, panels, workshops, competitions—that will engage students, faculty and the statewide University of Wisconsin community throughout the academic year.

Several staff members associated with the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service, which is based on the Marathon County campus, have written grants to support programming and expand the impact of the Shared Reading experience.

In recent years, Deep Economy has been adopted for similar common reading programs at Ohio Wesleyan University, RIT, and University of Texas, Arlington.

Bill McKibben is the author of five books published by Henry Holt, including Eaarth (available April 2010).

Field Notes from a Catastrophe and Elizabeth Kolbert at St. Mary’s College of Maryland

This summer, as they prepared and packed for their first year at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, first-year students were also reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe. All incoming students were required to read the book in one of several interdisciplinary first-year seminars this semester. Faculty members were also encouraged to adopt the book in other courses throughout the 2009-2010 academic year.

The two major goals of the common reading program are to show new students that, “In the academy, conversations and actions should be grounded in text, regardless of discipline [and] to challenge the way that academic and social life are assumed to be separate.” So, as a tie-in to the common reading program, the author will speak on campus next week, addressing all members of the first-year class as “guest lecturer” for their introductory seminars. Related campus programming, including a series of campus wide events called the “Environmental Action Symposium,” will continue through this semester.

Learn more about the Summer Reading Program at St. Mary’s College of Maryland here.

Field Notes from a Catastrophe has been a common book in recent years at Linfield College, Mount Holyoke College, SUNY, Oswego, and Vassar College.

Freshman English Students at University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point Read Nickel and Dimed

Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On [Not] Getting by in America has become a favorite of common reading programs in colleges, high schools, libraries, and communities all over the country.

The Freshman English Program at University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point is one of many programs using the book in this academic year. Nickel and Dimed will be assigned in all sections of Freshman English this fall and next spring.  All students are required to take the course, which emphasizes practice in research and composition. By the end of the Spring 2010 semester, every member of the class of 2013 will have read, discussed, and written about the book.

The 10th anniversary edition of Nickel and Dimed, with a new afterword by the author, was published in 2008. Read more about the book here.

Ms. Ehrenreich’s latest work, Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, will be available from Macmillan this month.

Moravian College Class of 2013 Reads The World Without Us; Alan Weisman Speaks on Campus

9780312427900Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us is the common reading title for freshman students at Moravian College this fall. Members of the class of 2013 purchased the book and read the book over the summer. During orientation week in August, students met in small groups for discussion and Alan Weisman spoke on campus.

The Director of Student Activities writes, “We are delighted to host an author of his caliber as part of our common reading program . . . The common reading experience provides a model of learning that values openness to new ideas and promotes an expectation for academic engagement.”

The World Without Us is also the key title for the first few weeks of the course, “Introduction to College Life,” which aims to introduce all first-year students to intellectual and academic practices required for success in college and beyond.

Read more about Alan Weisman’s bestselling book here.