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Common Reading Program Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement

Common Reading Teaching Guide Makes Online Debut

Cover of the 2022-23 common reading book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

PULLMAN, Wash.—For the first time in its 16-year existence, the Washington State University Common Reading Program has produced a detailed guide to help faculty and staff better use the year’s common book strategically and effectively in classes, assignments, activities, and programming.

“The 58-page booklet is online and packed with information, ideas, examples, and references to bring to life the 2022-23 book, Braiding Sweetgrass, for first-year and other students in creative and even fun ways,” said Samantha Solomon, principal investigator on the grant that funded the guide’s creation.

“The project for me personally was very rewarding, as I had the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues who made me think about the content in a new way,” she said. “I also think this guide will be helpful to many people in the WSU community who want to use the common book but aren’t sure what role it could play in their learning environment.” » More …

WSU Selects Braiding Sweetgrass as Next Common Reading for Students

Cover of the 2022-23 common reading book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University has selected as its 2022-23 common read for first-year and other students the book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Cover of Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Published in 2013 by Milkweed Press, it features essays that convey scientific knowledge as well as indigenous lore and reflections on subjects such as the relationship between humans and the land, sacred traditions, agriculture and land use, environmental threat and regeneration, climate change, and more. The book is divided into five sections: planting, tending, picking, braiding, and burning sweetgrass.

“I am very excited about the possibilities this selection offers in terms of topics, its utility across multiple disciplines, access, and connection with university initiatives and with our local region,” said Karen Weathermon, director of First-Year Programs, which includes the 16-year-old Common Reading Program.

WSU Provost and Executive Vice President and WSU Pullman Chancellor Elizabeth Chilton selected the book from four nominations submitted by an evaluation committee.  She said, “I think this book will dovetail superbly with our faculty cluster hire focusing on Native and Indigenous communities.”

“This beautifully written collection of essays addresses many topics that are of national and global interesting: ecology, climate change, sustainability, cultural heritage, and, most importantly, how do we know what we know?,” said Chilton.

“This book will be of broad interest across many disciplines in the arts and sciences, and connects directly to our land-grant mission and our collaboration with Tribal Nations in the State of Washington.”

About the Author

Robin Wall Kimmerer.
Photo by Dale Kakkak.

Kimmerer is described as a mother; scientist/botanist; author; enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation; Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse, New York; and founder and director of SUNY ESF’s Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.

According to her website, “as a writer and a scientist, her interests in restoration include not only restoration of ecological communities, but restoration of our relationships to land.” She earned a B.S. in botany from SUNY ESF, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in botany from the University of Wisconsin.  In 2015, she addressed the general assembly of the United Nations on the topic of “Healing our Relationship with Nature.”

Her first book is the award-winning Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses.

Book, Weekly Updates Availability

Weathermon said that the book is available at no cost to all students, faculty, and staff thanks to WSU Libraries’ license for unlimited ebook access to the publication. Users can simply download the book.

Weathermon said that faculty should contact her if they wish to be on a weekly email distribution list for common reading events and opportunities throughout the year.

Three Additional Nominations

Every year since 2007, a volunteer committee review book nominations submitted by the university community. Its top choices are sent to Chilton for a final selection. The other books sent to Chilton for consideration this year are:

  • Klara and the Sun: A Novel, by Kazuo Ishigura, a story about an artificial friend
  • Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, by Adam Grant, which explores intelligence as the ability to think and learn—and rethink and unlearn
  • Resetting the Table: Straight Talk About the Food We Grow and Eat, by Robert Paarlberg, which offers a look at the changing worlds of food and farming

Common Reading Program

Braiding Sweetgrass will be used during the sixteenth year of the Common Reading Program at WSU. Each year, first-year and other students use topics from a shared book in classes across several disciplines, sparking discussions with professors and among students and building a community of learners. In this current year, 2021-22, the book Tales from Two Americas has allowed the program to host and partner with 19 other units across the university to host 92 events or exhibits that have carried common-reading credit. Students could typically select from three-to-five events per week to enhance their knowledge relating to book topics.


Media contacts: Karen Weathermon, Director, Common Reading Program, part of First-Year Programs, 509-335-5488, kweathermon@wsu.edu

Beverly Makhani, Director, Communications and Marketing, WSU Division of Academy Engagement and Student Achievement, 509-432-3430, makhani@wsu.edu

WSU Welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet Natalie Diaz for Feb. 9 Reading

Natalie Díaz will deliver a virtual reading for the 2022 Common Reading Invited Lecture on Wednesday, February 9 in the evening. Díaz is a Pulitzer Price winning poet and writer and the author of the poem American Arithmetic in A Tale of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation.

Pullman, Wash.—The Washington State University Common Reading Program and the Visiting Writers Series (VWS) will co-sponsor a reading by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and author Natalie Diaz at 6:00 p.m. Wed., Feb. 9 via YouTube Live.

The event is open to the public and free of charge. A question-and-answer session will follow the virtual reading.

Diaz’s poem, “American Arithmetic,” is featured in this year’s common reading book, Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation. The book is used in dozens of classes for first-year and other students.

“We are pleased to co-sponsor with the Visiting Writers Series the poet’s address to WSU students, faculty, staff, and community guests,” said Karen Weathermon, Common Reading director.

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WSU Common Reading opens nominations for 2022-23 book through Nov. 15

Pullman, Wash.—Have you read a good book lately that you think could spark Washington State University campus conversation around an important topic? One that could be used in classes across several disciplines in addition to providing a base for campus-wide programming?

The Common Reading Program announces that nominations for the 2022-23 book are open through Mon., Nov. 15. More information and the form can be accessed on the Book Nominations page on the Common Reading website.

“The next book will be the sixteenth in as many years,” said Karen Weathermon, director of the program. “Thousands of WSU students have benefitted from the program since it began, and from classroom discussions and faculty- and guest-expert lectures based on topics raised in each book.

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WSU Common Reading Offers Exam Copies of New Book to Faculty for Classes, Programs

Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation. Edited by John Freeman.

PULLMAN, Wash.—Requests from faculty are now being accepted for digital exam copies of Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation, the 2021-22 common reading book, said Karen Weathermon, director of First-Year Programs, of which the Common Reading Program is a part.

“Anyone considering using the book for courses or programming aimed at students is encouraged to complete the online request for a digital exam copy,” she said.

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May 3 Book Request Deadline: Teaching Academy Book Club Using New Common Reading

The WSU President’s Teaching Academy will be joining the WSU Common Reading Program for the 2021-2022 academic year by supporting a book club for faculty to read Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation edited by John Freeman. Their goal is to consider how the text can be applied to their classrooms and used to encourage their students’ engagement with topics related to social equity.

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WSU’s Next Common Reading Is ‘Tales of Two Americas,’ edited by John Freeman

Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation. Edited by John Freeman.

PULLMAN, Wash.—The Washington State University Common Reading Program has announced the 2021-22 book to be used by first-year and other students in classes and beyond is Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in Divided Nation, edited by John Freeman.

Electronic desk copies will be made available soon to faculty who might wish to incorporate topics from the book into their courses.

Selection by the Provost

Each year since 2007, a volunteer committee reviews book nominations submitted by the university community. Its top choices are sent to the provost and executive vice president for a final selection. Provost Elizabeth Chilton, who joined WSU in August, chose Tales of Two Americas.

“This book’s topic is critically important, and every student at WSU should have the opportunity to join the 36 contemporary writers in examining life in a deeply divided America,” she said in a letter to Karen Weathermon, director of the Common Reading Program.

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WSU Common Reading Opens Nominations for 2021-22 Book through Nov. 15

PULLMAN, Wash.—Have you read a good book lately that you think could spark Washington State University campus conversation around an important topic? One that could be used in classes across several disciplines in addition to providing a base for campus-wide programming?

The Common Reading Program announces that nominations for the 2021-22 book are open through Sun., Nov. 15, and can be accessed on the nomination page of the Common Reading website.

“The next book will be the fifteenth in as many years,” said Karen Weathermon, director of the program. “Thousands of WSU students have benefitted from the program since it began, and from classroom discussions and faculty- and guest-expert lectures based on topics raised in each book.

“The common reading helps first-year and other students experience new ideas and create new and academically focused networks with professors and other students. The program is carefully designed to stimulate critical thinking and strengthen forms of communication around a selected single book.”

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Oct. 27: Daily Show Producer Ted Tremper to Discuss Socio-political Comedy

Ted Tremper, Washington State University alumnus and award-winning writer, director, producer, and educator.

Ted Tremper, Washington State University alumnus and award-winning writer, director, producer, and educator.Ted Tremper, Washington State University alumnus and award-winning writer, director, producer, and educator.PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University alumnus and award-winning writer, director, producer, and educator Ted Tremper will discuss socio-political comedy when he returns virtually to WSU as the guest presenter for the Common Reading Program at 5 p.m. Oct. 27.

Visit the Common Reading website to register to attend the online presentation and to submit questions to Tremper.

Among the Seattle-area native’s many credits is his year-long assignment as field producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, a weeknight Comedy Central TV series built around the host’s commentary on daily headlines.

Noah is the author of this year’s common reading book being used in dozens of freshman and other classes, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood.

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WSU Common Reading Selects as Next Shared Text Comedian Trevor Noah’s Book Born a Crime

Book cover for the 2020-21 Common Reading "Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood," by Trevor Noah.

PULLMAN, Wash.—The Washington State University Common Reading Program has announced that the 2016 book by television star and comedian Trevor Noah, titled, “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood,” will be used as the 2020-21 shared read for students.

The book describes several of Noah’s experiences growing up as the son of a white Swiss father and black Xhosa tribe woman under an apartheid government. At the time, being of mixed races in that country was illegal. That was the basis for the book’s title.

“This selection will provide a rich field of topics from which the Common Reading Program will draw for year-long classroom discussion, programming, and guest expert lectures,” said Karen Weathermon, director. “The book will provide a platform for examining issues of inequalities as they occur in a variety of different contexts as well as issues of race, identity, family, and the power of storytelling.”

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