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WSU Opens Nominations for 2011-2012 Common Reading Book for Freshmen

PULLMAN, Wash.-The selection committee of the Common Reading Program at Washington State University is looking ahead the next academic year, and has announced its call for nominations for the 2011-2012 common reading book for freshmen.

Faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, and friends of the university are invited to use the online nomination form to suggest any book that would stimulate conversation, inquiries, and critical thinking among new students in classes across all disciplines, says Susan Poch, co-director of the program and head of the selection committee.  The Common Reading Program is part of the new University College, where she serves as associate dean.  The closing date will likely be in early December.

“The purpose of the Common Reading Program is to create a common academic ground for all who participate in it, including new students, faculty, staff, and the community,” says Poch.  “Each year since 2007, a single book has been chosen by the university to be read by all freshmen and used in their courses and in special programs outside of classes, as well.

“Students, professors, residence hall staff, librarians, and others lend ideas and actions to bring to life topics raised in that common reading book.  Many WSU faculty members are leading researchers in their fields, and the program provides a great venue for them to share information from their research with students that ties to the book.”

In summer 2010, about 3,200 copies of this year’s book, “Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” by Montana humanitarian Greg Mortenson, were distributed to freshmen attend orientation.  In addition to its use in dozens of first-year courses underway now, the book is the source of topics for faculty and guest presentations spread across two semesters in the popular evening series, Common Reading Tuesdays.

Mortenson is also coming to Pullman January 26, 2011 for an evening lecture directed to students but also open to the public.

Last fall, the selection committee read numerous nominated books before selecting its top four to send to Provost and Executive Vice President Warwick M. Bayly for his evaluation.  It was he who chose “Stones into Schools” for this year.

The process is to nominate a book will again be easy, says Poch.  An online nomination form asks the nominator to include about the book they favor and how it could be widely used across disciplines as the common reading.

Previous common reading books include:

  • “Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It,” by Gina Kolata.  In fall 2007, it was the first common reading book.
  • “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers,” by Mary Roach, was the second, used in fall 2008.
  • “Omnivore’s Dilemma: A History of Four Meals,” by Michael Pollan, was the third in 2009-2010, but the first to be used in both fall and spring semesters.

Each author visited campus.  A former faculty member, Alfred Crosby, a historian, also visited campus in 2007 to present on the 1917 flu pandemic.

For more information, visit CommonReading.wsu.edu.


CONTACT: Beverly Makhani, Communications Director, WSU University College, 509-335-6679, Makhani@wsu.edu

Susan Poch, Co-Director, WSU Common Reading Program, and Associate Dean, WSU University College, 509-335-7769, poch@wsu.edu