The goals of the Common Read program are to promote academic discourse and critical thinking, to create a sense of community among incoming students, and to integrate an academic and social experience into the campus community. These goals are realized for new students when they receive a copy of the Common Read in their Orientation packets and arrive on campus with their reading complete and prepared to engage in discussions about the book. This year's selection is the Pulitzer Prize winning The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert.
Much change is underway in our contemporary landscape. For the first time in history, most of the world population has migrated to cities, while technology connects even the most isolated populations. Human influence on Earth’s ecosystems and atmosphere is so extensive that it may define a new geologic epoch, dubbed the Anthropocene. Despite our increasing demands, however, the natural world continues and must continue to provide sustenance. The ancient elements-- air, water, earth, and fire-- provide an organizing principle and set of sub-themes for the 2015-2016 PLACE theme: the air we breathe and that warms and cools with the seasons; the clean water we drink and the saline water of the vast ocean ecosystem; the earth, mixing life and decomposition, providing nutrients; and fire, symbolizing energy that we extract from the earth and harvest from the sun, the energy of life and the energy of modernity. This PLACE topic asks us to pause and consider the elements once considered to be the building blocks of existence, the way in which they are utilized in the modern world, and their status for the future.
New students are encouraged to submit an entry in the Summer Common Reading Essay Contest! Details coming soon.