|SARASOTA, Fla. (Aug 1, 2017) – USF Sarasota-Manatee is launching a Common Read program to get students starting college “on the same page,” literally.
A fixture the past few years at campuses nationally, Common Read programs provide popular books to freshmen as a way to spark conversations and bridge background differences. The books, or themes drawn from them, often turn up as topics of discussion in subsequent general education courses.
“It’s something that’s been discussed in the past and this year we decided to do it,” said Dr. Phil Wagner, director of general education, core curriculum coordinator and chairman of the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “It’s something that brings people together.”
USFSM has chosen “A Long Way Home,” the 200-page biographical account of Saroo Brierley, for its first Common Read book.
“A Long Way Home” follows Brierley, who, after being lost at a train station in India as a boy, is adopted by an Australian couple. Years later, using Google Earth, he locates his village and reconnects with his family. The book was adapted into the 2016 film “Lion.”
“So often students come in as a cohort, but don’t have anything that binds them together as they progress and move through their classes,” said Diane Fulkerson, director of the Information Commons. “This ties them together and gives them something in common to relate to.”
Fulkerson worked with Dr. Wagner and Kim Mones, director of student engagement, as well as USFSM library specialist Jessica Szempruch and others to introduce the Common Read program.
After generating support from faculty and Interim Regional Chancellor Dr. Terry Osborn, the group developed a 14-member committee to suggest books for reading. About a dozen publications were put forth initially, from classics to modern, non-fictional accounts.
“A Long Way Home” won out with its multiple themes of race, immigration, poverty and food deprivation, plus it was “a simple read,” said Wagner.
“Students won’t be lost in the content, but will quickly find applications to many of the issues they are tackling already in their courses,” he said, adding that he expects many of the book’s themes to emerge as topics of discussion in the English composition, student success and other general education courses.
Later, on Sept. 21, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., a screening of “Lion” will be presented at the Selby Auditorium.
And in case students think they can simply watch the movie without reading the book, Wagner stressed that elements of the story not shown in the movie appear in the book.
“They’re definitely not the same,” he added. “So watching and reading will give two different perspectives.”
For more information about USF Sarasota-Manatee, visit usfsm.edu/.
|About USF Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM)
USF Sarasota-Manatee is a regional campus of the University of South Florida system, offering the prestige of a nationally ranked research university with the convenience of a hometown location, including classes in Manatee County, Venice and online. Separately accredited, USFSM is ideal for those interested in pursuing a baccalaureate or master’s degree, professional certification, or continuing education credit in a small, personal setting with distinguished faculty and a dynamic curriculum of over 40 academic programs. Website: www.usfsm.edu.