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Common Reading Program

Common Reading at Rowan

[ Letter to students | Letter to the University Community ]


Dear Students,

An ideal University community is one in which all members can engage in shared exploration of ideas that matter. The R U Reading Together common reading program, in which all members of the Rowan community are encouraged to read a selected book and then to explore the themes in that book via multiple avenues, is one of your first opportunities to engage in our lively academic community.

The 2015-2016 book, Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash, challenges us to think about humans’ impact on the environment. People in many cultures - especially the United States - produce enormous amounts of trash; the health of our oceans, lands, and communities are suffering. Where does your disposable cup from your morning coffee go? What about those plastic grocery bags that catch on tree limbs and float in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? By reading together as a community, we can reflect on the impact of humans on the environment of the planet and of our own communities. Importantly, we can also examine the reasons and impact of our own choices regarding consumption and disposal.

This book is also a great introduction to explore the STEP UP concept of Preserve Resources. By participating in co-curricular activities around this and other STEP UP concepts, we hope you will achieve success inside and outside of the classroom as an engaged Rowan student. Just some of the ways in which you will likely encounter the book this year will be: discussions in Rowan Seminars and writing courses; featured lectures by Rowan faculty and invited scholars; "book club" type discussions in the residence halls; and much more. You may even get to attend Edward Humes' "trash talk" during his campus visit on Monday, October 5. Through all of these experiences, you will experience what it’s like to join a scholarly community of curious people.

We very much hope that you will enjoy reading the book this summer. While you are reading Garbology, you will be challenged to think about your own relationship with trash and ways we can all be less wasteful. We are very much looking forward to exploring the answers to those questions with you in the coming academic year.

Happy reading,

Rory McElwee, PhD
Associate Vice President for Student Retention

Drew Tinnin
Senior Director, Orientation & Student Leadership Programs

Richard Jones
Vice President for Student Life & Dean of Students


Dear Rowan Community,

I am delighted to announce the book selected for Rowan's 4th annual RU Reading Together common reading program is Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash, by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and bestselling author Edward Humes. In the resource-rich United States and in many other countries around the world, people's affinity for consumption and convenience leads to serious environmental threat in the form of garbage and other types of pollution. Humes explores the historical, sociolocultural, economic, and environmental context of this modern scourge in evocative and memorable ways.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with a Common Reading Program, it involves a committee or faculty, staff and students select a work of real significance and depth but broad appeal, encouraging as many members of a community as possible to read the book. We will also host a variety of programs and discussion groups where issues are explored and even debated. This is an ideal way of reinforcing the value of the scholarly community that we enjoy at Rowan. At the same time, we can model for our students engagement with ideas and issues through civil discourse.

By reading Garbology together as a community, we can reflect on the impact of humans on the environment of the planet and of our own communities. We are extremely fortunate that Ed Humes has agreed to visit Rowan on October 5 for a public lecture. Join us at 11 am in the Enyon Ballroom in the Chamberlain Student Center. His "trash talk" is an event you won’t want to miss!

I encourage the University community to purchase your copy of Garbology and be prepared to join in discussing the book in the fall. To learn more about the book and access learning resources, please visit www.rowan.edu/commonreading. Let the reading, and the conversations, begin.

Dr. Houshmand
President Ali Houshmand, PhD