This fall quarter, incoming freshmen will enroll at Pacific Union College with a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and new schedules. Yet they will still share at least one thing—all will have received and read sustainability activist Annie Leonard’s book, The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health—and a Vision for Change. This jumpstart for college is part of PUC Reads, a new program designed to engage the campus in shared discussion of critical issues.
Every spring quarter, PUC Reads will invite PUC faculty, staff, and students—including incoming freshmen—to read a chosen book (this year, The Story of Stuff) over the summer (incoming freshmen will be mailed a copy in advance). Throughout the following school year, the book will be featured as part of the ENGL 101 and COMM 105 curricula, as well as integrated where appropriate into other classes, especially freshmen-level courses. All are encouraged to participate in discussion groups and find ways to connect with others, in order to develop a “learning community.” The year’s emphasis will culminate in a spring colloquy meeting featuring the author or another speaker connected with the book of the year.
“It’s a lot like a giant book club,” says Steve Waters, professor of mathematics and a member of the task force that presented the program to the college administration. “Although other colleges have implemented summer reading programs, PUC Reads pushes beyond many other school programs.” Not only does PUC Reads ask all freshmen to read the chosen book, but the program also directs them towards active engagement with the material, through its inclusion in meetings of FUSION, PUC’s all-year freshman orientation program; through requirement as a textbook for at least two courses; and through the book’s integration into many other campus activities.
This year, after a rigorous book selection process, The Story of Stuff will help bring the campus’s core theme of stewardship for the 21st century into classrooms, dorm rooms, and living rooms. An extension of a successful online video, the book promotes the appropriate consumption of resources, while accommodating different points of view—an important part of any PUC Reads book selection, according to Waters, who looks forward to the program’s premiere.
To learn more about The Story of Stuff, view the author’s website and video presentation at www.storyofstuff.com.
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