St. John’s University’s 2011 Summer Reading Pick is Sandel’s Justice

Michael J. Sandel’s Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? is the 2011 Summer Reading selection at St. John’s University. All first-year students received a copy of the book from the university in July and read it over the summer.

This year, Justice will be a central text in SJU’s Discover New York curriculum. A course unique to St. John’s University, Discover New York welcomes students to both the university and the New York City communities with “an introduction to [the city] through the lens of a particular subject discipline. It focuses on the themes of immigration, race/ethnicity, religion, wealth and poverty, and the environment.” Discover New York combines many of the same classroom experiences as a traditional student success or college orientation course (writing, critical thinking, accessing information with different types of media, etc.) with dynamic firsthand experiences throughout New York City.

The university developed a comprehensive guide to teaching the book, incorporating information about primary resources, key terms and phrases, and some approaches to teaching the book from rhetorical, philosophical, cultural, national and international perspectives.

Justice will be the topic of several book discussions held throughout the fall and spring semesters. Additionally, the annual research competition sponsored by the St. John’s University Libraries and The Friends of the Library carried a related theme: Social Justice in the Real World. The competition is open to all undergraduates at SJU.

Previous summer reading books at St. John’s include Triangle, Katharine Weber’s novel based on the devastating fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City in 1911.

Justice • Farrar, Straus & Giroux Paperbacks • 320 pages

It Happened On the Way to War is SUNY, Potsdam’s 2011 Common Book

Iraq veteran Rye Barcott’s memoir, It Happened On the Way to War,  is the 2011 Common Reading book at the State University of New York, Potsdam. In August, the university’s Student Success Center distributed copies of the book to incoming students enrolling in the First-Year Success Seminar (FYSS).

The book will be assigned reading in all sections of FYSS, a college transition course that most new students take in the fall semester. Though sections of the course are based on an array of interdisciplinary topics, appealing to a student body with broad academic interests, the book will be the common thread that links the whole class together.

Students will be asked to consider what lessons might be learned from these two “worlds” of service [military and humanitarian], as well as how they can make an impact on the world as college students.

‘On the Way to War’ Author Speaks to SUNY Potsdam Freshman

The First Year Experience (FYE) program also has a Residential Life component; students enrolled in the same FYSS will live together on the same floor in one of two dorms. This way, freshman students making the transition to university life and academics can “go through it all together” with their peers. Students will also have the support of upperclassmen who live on each FYE floor and serve both as Academic Peer Mentors, providing general academic guidance, and as FYSS Teaching Assistants.

Rye Barcott will visit campus to speak on October 12.

Previously, P.M. Forni’s Choosing Civility was the common book at SUNY, Potsdam. Click here to see all the schools that have adopted these titles and other Popular Picks for first-year reading from Macmillan.

It Happened On the Way to War • Bloomsbury • 352 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

Clark Atlanta University’s Class of 2015 Reads Daniel Black’s Perfect Peace

For the second year in a row, Daniel Black’s Perfect Peace is the common reading assignment for incoming first-year students at Clark Atlanta University!

Members of Class of 2015 are reading the novel before they arrive on campus for CAU Experience, the new student orientation program, which begins on August 17.  The author will facilitate several discussion sessions about this year’s book on campus during CAU Experience.

Throughout the school year, students will continue to discuss and write about Perfect Peace in the two-semester First Year Seminar, which is a required course for all new students.  The First Year Seminar at CAU “assist[s] students with the transition to the University . . . It also focuses on academic, personal and social issues relevant to college life.”

In previous years, the university has assigned other works by Daniel Black, including They Tell Me of a Home and The Sacred Place for the First-Year Seminar required reading. Dr. Black is an Associate Professor of African and African American Studies and Africana Women’s Studies at CAU, where he studied English as an undergraduate himself.

Perfect Peace • St. Martin’s Press • 352 pages

Class Matters at Bryn Mawr: The College’s Inaugural Common Reading Program

For its first-ever common reading program, Bryn Mawr College has chosen Class Matters, from the highly-acclaimed New York Times series of the same title. In July, the school sent a copy to every member of the Class of 2015, so they’ll be getting a jump-start on their first college reading assignments!

Class Matters was selected by Bryn Mawr’s Diversity Leadership Group, writes Michele A. Rasmussen, Dean of the Undergraduate College. The Diversity Leadership Group is “a committee of senior administrators and faculty [who] devise campus-wide diversity programming. Members of the committee were familiar with the book and thought it would be a particularly good choice for our students.”

The college purchased copies of Class Matters for the first-year class with a gift from Bryn Mawr’s Alumnae Association, which is also spreading the word about the book and encouraging its members to participate.

In fact, Bryn Mawr aims to involve as much of the college community as possible in this inaugural shared reading experience by “ask[ing] members of the campus community to suggest activities focused on the reading.” The college’s goal is to sustain an interdisciplinary conversation about socioeconomic class and its influences on individuals and society on campus throughout the 2011-2012 academic year.

That ongoing conversation and other related programming will evolve alongside the Diversity Leadership Group and Diversity Council’s year-long Class Dismissed? initiative. With a film series, collaborative community projects, on-campus speakers, and the common reading of Class Matters,  Class Dismissed? will serve as a platform for community engagement, awareness, and action related to the topic of socioeconomic class.

Class Matters • Times Books • 288 pages

University of Arkansas’ One Book, One Community Title is No Impact Man

Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man is the 2011 selection for the One Book, One Community all-campus common reading program at the University of Arkansas!

First-year students will read, discuss, and write about the book in Freshman Composition; adoptions are also anticipated in other courses, especially those emphasizing rhetoric and composition, environmental studies, and sustainability (the university approved an interdisciplinary undergraduate Minor in Sustainability in April).

“[No Impact Man] has a rich personal narrative that is driven by conflict, both internal—within the author’s mind—and external—with his immediate and extended families and with consumer-driven society at large—making it a compelling read.”

Raina Smith Lyons, Interim Director of the Program in Rhetoric and Composition and One Book, One Community Committee Member

Colin Beavan will visit in October to speak with students and faculty and deliver a public lecture on campus, and also meet with local book club members at the Fayetteville Public Library, which will be collaborating with the university on the OBOC program for the third year.

“The One Book committee wanted [a book] that could tap into students’ concern about the environment [and] the university’s and community’s sustainability efforts . . . We received a number of really excellent suggestions from the campus and the community, and I think we’ve found a book that will educate, entertain and stimulate some lively discussion.”

Kevin Fitzpatrick, Jones Chair in Community, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice and Co-chair, One Book, One Community Committee

Already a leader in campus sustainability practices and principles, the University of Arkansas has established a mission to reduce its environmental impact:

—through education of students and citizens about environmental stewardship and sustainability
—through research to develop knowledge and technologies that facilitate sustainability and improved environmental stewardship
—by committing to become a carbon neutral institution as soon as it is practical
—by committing to become a zero-waste institution as soon as it is practical
—by serving as an exemplar of environmental stewardship for our community, Arkansas, and the world

With support from university departments and services like the Quality Writing Center, the Sustainability Council, the Applied Sustainability Center, and Facilities Management, the OBOC committee is planning a variety of interdisciplinary and interactive events that relate to No Impact Man and the 2011 OBOC theme: Creating and Living in a Sustainable World.  Plans include a September screening of the “No Impact Man” documentary, faculty panels, visual art and design exhibitions (like Master of Fine Arts candidate Szilvia Kadas’s showcase, Small Footprint) and student action projects that promote sustainable practices on campus and in the local communities.

Read about other schools that have selected No Impact Man for common reading initiatives and their No Impact Weeks and sustainability efforts here!

No Impact Man • Picador • 288 pages

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

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

Soft Spots is the 2011-2012 Book in Common at Collin College

Clint Van Winkle’s Soft Spots: A Marine’s Memoir of Combat and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the 2011-2012 Book in Common at Collin College. It will be assigned course reading in disciplines throughout the college’s three area campuses, including English and Composition, Sociology, Psychology and Counseling, and others.

Now in its sixth year, the campus-wide Book in Common initiative has become a central part of intellectual life in and around the Collin College community. Planning for this year’s programming is just underway. In previous years, the common book has inspired community service projects, writing workshops, and lecture series. The college has invited author and veteran Clint Van Winkle to speak at their campuses next Spring.

Though spearheaded by the Center for Scholarly and Civic Engagement, the Book in Common is truly a college-wide effort.  The Collin College Libraries participate by offering resources and support to students doing coursework or research related to the book each year.  Faculty members have collaborated to produce an interdisciplinary teaching guide that contextualizes the common book in various areas of study.  Student Life offices on each campus collaborate on related events and activities “that exercise camaraderie in the student body beyond disciplines.”

The program’s District Coordinator, English Professor Betty Bettachi, has said, “The students get so much out of [the common reading program], and they have started to look forward to the new book, asking what the new selection is going to be . . . They love to read the books.”

Watch this page for more details about Soft Spots at Collin College!

Soft Spots • St. Martin’s Griffin • 224 pages