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Common Reading Program Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement

Screening of “He Named Me Malala” film hosted by WSU Common Reading

The Washington State University Common Reading Program presents a screening of the award-winning documentary “He Named Me Malala,” Tues., Nov.29 at 7 p.m. in Todd 116. The public is welcome at this free campus event.

The 2015 film directed by Davis Guggenheim is an intimate portrait of Malala Yousafzai, author of this year’s common reading book for WSU students titled I Am Malala. Yousafzai is the youngest recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize, awarded for her efforts speaking out for women’s education in her home country of Pakistan. To stop the schoolgirl’s work, she was shot by the Taliban, but survived to carry on with her campaign and her own education.

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“Prison State” film showing Nov. 9

Pullman, Wash. – The Washington State University Common Reading program is hosting a showing of the 2014 Frontline television documentary “Prison State”, Monday Nov. 9 from 4:30 – 6 p.m. in Heald G3.

“Prison State” follows four people caught up in Kentucky’s criminal justice system.  The two teenage girls and two adult men featured in the film liven in Beecher Terrace, a housing project in Louisville, where one out of every six people cycle in and out of prison every year.  Juvenile detention, mental illness, and addiction are highlighted as they contribute to the prison population. » More …

Award-winning “Broken on All Sides” film featured at Sept. 15 WSU Common Reading event

Pullman, Wash. – “Broken on All Sides,” a film about racial inequality within America’s criminal justice system, will be shown at 7 p.m. Tues., Sept. 15, in room 203 of the Smith Center for Undergraduate Education at Washington State University. The public is welcome at this free event hosted by the Common Reading Program. » More …

Screening of To Kill a Mockingbird film Tuesday kicks off new programs for WSU Common Reading Program

PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University’s Common Readings Tuesdays event and speaker series kicks off fall semester 2015 with a free screening of the 1962 classic film To Kill a Mockingbird, starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday (8-25-15) in CUE 203. The public is welcome.
Action in the book by the same name takes place in the fictional town of Maycomb, based on Monroeville, Alabama, the home town of author Harper Lee.
Says Bryan Stevenson, author of this year’s WSU Common Reading book, Just Mercy, Monroeville proudly celebrates its connection to the novel and film while it remained blind to contemporary racial bias and injustices in its administration of justice.
Says Karen Weathermon, program co-director, “We start this year’s series with a showing of this classic film to provide some of the context and story that this year’s common reading will challenge and extend.”

The public is invited to hear Bryan Stevenson at the annual Common Reading Invited Lecture on December 1 in Pullman.

MEDIA: Karen Weathermon, WSU Common Reading Program co-director, WSU Undergraduate Education, 509-335-5448,

Beverly Makhani, WSU Undergraduate Education communication and marketing directorm, 509-335-6679,

WSU Common Reading Lecture Series Kicks Off Tues. Aug. 21 with Showing of “Law & Order” Episode Linked to This Year’s Book

PULLMAN, Wash.—How do television shows base stories on people in the news or in books? Washington State University freshmen reading “The Immortal Story of Henrietta Lacks” in dozens of first-year classes can see for themselves when the Common Reading Program sponsors a showing of an episode from the popular show “Law and Order” Tuesday, Aug. 21, at 7 p.m. in Todd Hall 116.

While the show’s credits state the episode is not based on the lives of real people, the characters and plot in “Immortal” seem to align pretty closely with the facts surrounding the life and times of Lacks.

The common reading book, by non-fiction science writer Rebecca Skloot, is about Henrietta Lacks and her immortal cell line known as HeLa, derived from the first letters of her names.  Cervical cancer cells were taken from her without her knowledge prior to her death at 31 in 1951 for use in scientific research. HeLa cells were used to test the first polio vaccine in the 1950s, and since have been used for research into cancer, AIDS, the effects of radiation and toxic substances, gene mapping, and much more.

Skloot’s book was published in 2010 and covers the lives of Lacks’ five children and raises issues about racism, scientific ethics, poverty, and cancer, among others. It has won numerous awards and has been used for common readings at many universities.  In May 2010, it was announced that Home Box Office (HBO), with Oprah Winfrey‘s Harpo Films and producer Alan Ball, plan to create a film version of the story. With some of the proceeds from the book, Skloot has created a non-profit public charity called The Henrietta Lacks Foundation.

The book is used this year at both WSU and the University of Idaho as their common reading for students.  The Common Reading Program is a program in the University College at WSU.

For more information on the WSU program and upcoming events and speakers, visit


SOURCE: Karen Weathermon, Co-Director, WSU Common Reading Program in the University College at WSU, 509-335-5448,

MEDIA: Beverly Makhani, Communications, University College at WSU, 509-335-6679,