Common Reading Experience

A Commitment to Common Experience

The Common Reading Experience is a joint project sponsored by the Student Success Center and CETL. Its aim is to spark conversation about important social and moral issues; to connect first-year students with faculty and staff members from disciplines around the university; to introduce students to the nature of university work and discussion. By asking an incoming class of first-year students to read the same text, students have a rare opportunity to share how it affected them and understand how and why someone else may have read it differently.

CETL provides professional development for the selection of the faculty and staff volunteers. Discussion as a community-building activity lives at the heart of the common reading experience. In crafting these values, we draw on Discussion as a Way of Teaching by Stephen D. Brookfield and Stephen Preskill:

“Democracy and discussion imply a process of giving and taking, speaking and listening, describing and witnessing—all of which help expand horizons and foster mutual understanding. Discussion is one of the best ways to nurture growth because it is premised on the idea that only through collaboration and cooperation with others can we be exposed to new points of view. This exposure increases our understanding and renews our motivation to continue learning. In the process, our democratic instincts are confirmed: by giving the floor to as many different participants as possible, a collective wisdom emerges that would have been impossible for any of the participants to achieve on their own.”