RU Reading Together: Common Reading Program 2012-13
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The inaugural R U Reading Together selection was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Intrigued by a casual remark in an introductory biology course at a community college, the author relentlessly tracked down information about Henrietta Lacks, her family, and her cells, which have traveled around the globe and even into space. Henrietta Lacks was an African-American farmer in 1951 when she developed terminal cancer. Her doctors took some of her cells without her consent. Those cells, which remain alive today, have led to amazing medical discoveries but also to much confusion and dismay for her family as well as to serious questions about ethics. Themes of science, business, journalism, racism, sexism, social justice and more emanate from a compelling narrative that is hard to put down. The resulting book provides a platform to explore and debate moral and ethical issues surrounding medical research, informed consent, legal practices relating to privacy and the ownership of biological materials, racism, sexism, social justice, and the practice of journalism.
Discussions & Reading Groups
Dr. Deb Martin sponsored a faculty/staff book discussion group out of the Faculty Center, and the Offices of Orientation & Student Leadership Programs and Academic Transition Programs sponsored book discussion groups for the new students during move-in weekend. Each student discussion group was co-facilitated with a faculty or staff member and a continuing student peer leader from Writing Arts, Peer Referral & Orientation Staff, Resident Advisors, or the Honors Program.
Additionally, many faculty integrated The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in their fall term courses and several topical lectures and panel discussions were held, including:
- The Undiagnosed Impact of Masculine Pathology in Henrietta Lacks
- Ethics in Medicine
- RU Reading Together Family Weekend Dessert Conversation
- Lessons Learned from Henrietta Lacks: Protecting Human Subjects
- Lessons of the Henrietta Lacks Story: Bioethics and Social Justice
Rebecca Skloot visited campus on November 14, 2012 as part of the President's Lecture Series. Other program sponsors included: