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Common Book Project Committee looks for public suggestions on next year’s selection


unveiling of 2011-12 common book

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 5, 2012 – For the first time since the Common Book Project began at Virginia Tech more than a decade ago, its committee is asking for public suggestions for the next academic year’s selection.

The Common Book Project started as a pilot project in 1998 to enrich the first-year experience and create a sense of community among undergraduate students. The project launched full-scale in 2000.

The Common Book is now distributed to all first year and transfer students. Faculty members who teach those students are encouraged to integrate the common book into their curriculum through class discussions and projects. Faculty members, teaching assistants, and staff may request a copy of the current selection by sending an email to the committee. The plan is for all students – from engineering to English majors – to discuss and learn from the same book, creating a common thread in the undergraduate experience.

In the 14 academic years since the Common Book Project fully launched on campus, seven books have been featured:

  • 2000-2004 – "Einstein’s Dreams" by Alan Lightman (also used in pilot program in 1998-2000)
  • 2004-2005 – "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel
  • 2005-2007 – "Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers" by Alissa Quart
  • 2007-2009 – "Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man who Would Cure the World" by Tracy Kidder
  • 2009-2010 – "Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything" by Daniel Goleman
  • 2010-2011 – "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life" by Barbara Kingsolver
  • 2011-2013 – "This I Believe II," a collection of 75 short essays of personal philosophies by remarkable men and women

“The Common Book Project is an important ingredient in the overall recipe of what Virginia Tech is doing to enhance the undergraduate experience,” said Daniel Wubah, vice president of undergraduate education and deputy provost. “New students who may never cross paths in class because of very different educational goals can still come together and connect academically and socially with the common book.”

The Common Book Project Committee selects the book each year. It is made up of students, faculty, and staff members from across campus. This year, the committee is asking for suggestions from the Virginia Tech community. Submissions can be made online.

“Normally the committee receives word-of-mouth suggestions from faculty and students to consider for upcoming academic years,” said Mary Ann Lewis, director of the Office of First Year Experiences. “This year, we thought by inviting the community to offer ideas online, we may get a better variety of choices. In addition, we can see if particular books are recommended more frequently to narrow our focus.”

Submissions will be accepted through Oct. 15. The committee will review the suggestions and plans to make a selection by the end of the fall semester.

The Division of Undergraduate Education provides academic support, programs, and courses that touch on every aspect of the undergraduate experience, from recruitment to graduation and beyond. Its offices, units, and centers advocate for ways to create and nurture a vibrant and diverse community of engaged learners, while supporting the development of innovative and dynamic faculty. The division is committed to excellence in student access, retention, and success for the university’s 24,000 undergraduate students.

Common Book Project

The Common Book Project Committee recommends using the values represented on the pylons of the War Memorial as guiding principles for the selection of the Common Book. The values engraved on the eight pylons are, from left to right:

  • Brotherhood
  • Honor
  • Leadership
  • Sacrifice
  • Service
  • Loyalty
  • Duty
  • Ut Prosim (That I May Serve)

The Pylons are part of the War Memorial at Virginia Tech The War Memorial

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