Tag Archives: diversity

Montana State U. Students Use The Last Town on Earth to Reach Out to Women in Prison

Author Thomas Mullen’s book, The Last Town on Earth, was adopted last year as common reading for all incoming freshmen at Montana State University – Billings. Mullen had hoped that his book, which deals with important topics such as morality, making difficult choices, overcoming fear of the unknown, and hope for a better future, would relate fittingly to the lives of undergraduate students who face similar challenges – what he hadn’t imagined was that his story would find even more common-ground with the women incarcerated at Passages, a correctional institution just one mile from the MSUB campus.

Two instructors from MSUB offered a course in 2010 that included a Service Learning Project – students of the course would examine The Last Town on Earth in a joint book club with Passages residents. The main theme of “community” within both the novel as well as the book club begged the question from each woman, “what is community?”.

The learning and friendship that developed between the students and the residents of Passages, all stemming from discussion of Mullen’s The Last Town on Earth, was largely captured on camera by a small film crew that was making a documentary for an MSUB communications class – and it’s one that’s worth checking out: http://www.spotlightads.com/Demos/msub_passages.html

The project also included a visit to Passages by Mullen himself, where he met and spoke with the women of the correctional institution back in December of last year. To hear Mullen’s own account of his experience discussing The Last Town on Earth with Passages residents, check out his blog post on “My First Prison Book Club.”

So much chance and inspiration sprung out of what first started as a First Year Experience reading choice in snowy Billings, Montana, and grew into an entirely different and unforeseen community experience in a women’s prison. Just goes to show that the message of one book can cross borders in the most unexpected and terrific ways.

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University of Florida Unveils Outcasts United as Common Reading Book

Earlier in October, Outcasts United by Warren St. John was unveiled as the Common Reading Program book selection for the 2011-12 year.

Becky Burleigh, head coach of the University of Florida’s women’s soccer team, spoke at the event on why she loves Outcasts United. Watch this video to hear why Burleigh feels this title will not only bring the UF campus community together but will also be a great common reading selection for students of all backgrounds.

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Virginia Commonwealth University Selects The Other Wes Moore as FYE Pick for Fall!

Exciting news this morning: Common Reads has learned that Virginia Commonwealth University has selected The Other Wes Moore as its First Year Experience pick for this fall!

Lets not forget that Moore will also be a featured speaker at next weekend’s First Year Experience Conference in Atlanta, GA. If you haven’t registered yet for the FYE luncheon, it’s not too late to snag the last few spots!

The Other Wes Moore is the story of two young men and the journey of a generation. It has also been adopted as common reading at Bay Path College (Springfield, MA), Cabrini College (Radnor, PA), California State University at Bakersfield (Bakersfield, CA), and selected for community reading programs in Bakersfield, CA and Multnomah County Library in Portland, OR.

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Spotlight on: The Other Wes Moore

Two boys with the same name lived in the same decaying city. One went on to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison. The Other Wes Moore is the story of two young men and the journey of a generation.

Adopted as common reading at Bay Path College (Springfield, MA), Cabrini College (Radnor, PA) and California State University at Bakersfield (Bakersfield, CA) and selected for community reading programs in Bakersfield, CA and Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR, The Other Wes Moore explores issues of identity, race and education through unique juxtaposition.

“This intriguing narrative is enlightening, encouraging, and empowering. Read these words, absorb their meanings, and create your own plan to act and leave a legacy.”
—Tavis Smiley, from the Afterword

Paperback Available January 2011

Wes Moore will be a featured speaker at the Seventh Annual Random House, Inc. Author Luncheon during the 2011 First-Year Experience Conference. The conference is being held February 4-8, 2011 in Atlanta, GA. More information regarding the Author Luncheon and how to reserve your ticket is forthcoming!

 Read the book and then hear him speak! CommonReads is giving away TWO copies of The Other Wes Moore. Comment below and tell us why this book may be a good fit for your program and you will be entered to win. Offer only available to university professors and administrators, high school teachers, and librarians in the United States.

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Checking in on Enrique’s Journey at Fort Lewis College

Fort Lewis College students pose with Enrique's Journey

Earlier this year, CommonReads brought you the news of Fort Lewis College’s adoption of “FYE favorite” Enrique’s Journey. Written by award-winning journalist Sonia Nazario, the book tells the story of a young boy who leaves his home in Honduras to search for his mother in the United States.

Now Fort Lewis College Assistant Dean of Writing and First Year Experience, Bridget Irish, is following up on the students’ experience with Enrique’s Journey and the author’s visit to campus:

 One of the main goals of our college’s Common Reading Experience is to light a fire in our students’ brains about an important subject that they will have the ability to impact in their lifetime. As immigration is one of those subjects, we chose to give our almost 900 freshmen a free copy of Enrique’s Journey this fall. Our students at FLC are reading all or part of the book in several classes. We invited the book’s author, Sonia Nazario, to give a public talk and to spend a full day with students, faculty, staff ,and members of the larger Durango community. While I am embarrassed that we asked so much of Sonia, she didn’t flinch. She understood that we are trying to get our students engaged in the topic of immigration, motivated to learn, and willing to act as responsible citizens. She dove in and lit that fire! All around campus, our students are saying: I had NO idea! Students are remarking on her ability to make a dense, complicated subject easier for them to begin to understand. They are impresses by her intelligence and her huge heart and passion for her work.

How has your common read been recieved this Fall? Have photos of your students and events to share? E-mail them to rhacademic@randomhouse.com and they could be featured on an upcoming CommonReads post!

Learn more about the Fort Lewis Common Reading Experience program on their website!

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Why Howard University will have Dreams from My Father

 

The Writing Program at Howard University has selected Barack Obama’s memoir, Dreams From My Father for its Common Text to be read by all incoming first-year students this Fall.

Says Dana A. Williams, Ph.D., Department of English Chair, about their selection:

. . .few contemporary texts show better mastery of rhetorical strategies and expository writing skills than the President’s memoir. While reading Dreams, students will learn about one of the world’s most important figures, see how he uses writing to craft his self-image and self-narrative, and gain heightened awareness of contemporary social, political, cultural, and familial issues.

Written prior to the President’s election, Dreams from My Father is a lyrical and unsentimental look at his experiences as the son of a black African father and a white American mother.

The book has also been selected for common reading at the following colleges and universities: Augustana College, Boston College, California State University Eastbay, Elmhurst College, LaGuardia Community College, Quinnipiac University, Southern Methodist University, University of Illinois at Chicago, University Illinois at Urbana – Champaign, University of Washington, and Xavier University of Louisiana.

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Georgia State University to kick off First-Year Book Program with Outcasts United

For its inagural First-Year Book Program, Georgia State University has selected what is quickly becoming a state favorite: Outcasts United by Warren St. John. Incoming first-year students will have the opportunity to read the book this summer and it will be integrated into the GSU 1010 New Student Orientation and Engl 1101 English Composition I courses this fall.

In a press release the university said:

“A First-Year Book Program is a proven way to generate intellectual interest and engagement among students,” said Allison Calhoun-Brown, GSU’s academic director of student retention. “Outcasts United” is a very interesting and thought provoking book. This program offers freshmen students an opportunity to engage it collectively and from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives.  Reading and discussing it together as a class will help familiarize them with the kind of intellectual excitement that flows from the academic enterprise.”

The selected novel tells the story of how Clarkston, Ga., transformed from a predominately white town into one of the most diverse communities in the country, after it was designated a resettlement center for refugees around the world in the early ’90s. The story, which is told through the lens of a soccer team of refugee boys called the “Fugees,” provides readers with lessons about how to create community in places where everyone is different.

Read more about the book’s selection and the First-Year Book program at Georgia State here.

Outcasts United has also been selected by Georgia Tech University ,  Agnes Scott College (Decatur, GA) and several other universities. Find a full list here.

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