Outcasts United next common read

Chris Boone

Chris BooneReporter

The non-fiction bestseller tells the story of refugee soccer team in Clarkston, Georgia.

As the Common Read program moves into its third year, Outcasts United by Warren St. John has been chosen as the book for Fall 2011.

The common read is a program to enhance student learning and engagement throughout a common intellectual experience, said Tim Nichols, dean of the Honors College and interim director for diversity enhancement.

The common read program was instituted in Fall 2009 to increase diversity awareness at SDSU.

“SDSU was not performing to the standards of the National Survey for Student Engagement (NSSE)- an organization that works towards things like exposure to diversity, providing enriching educational experiences and active and collaborative learning,” Nichols said. “…This is why we have a common read.”

SDSU’s Common Read Committee is responsible for choosing the books. The first book chosen was Mountains to Mountains by Paul Farmer, while the second was Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson.

While students are not required to read it, faculty can incorporate the common read into their class if they wish to do so. Nichols said a variety of majors are beginning to incorporate it into their curriculum.

“An agriculture major may incorporate it in Agriculture 101, and a pharmacy major may incorporate it in Pharmacy 101, so it is not limited to just English or general studies,” he said.

Shelly Bayer, the life skills coordinator and an instructor in the College of General Studies, said she includes the common read in her class.

“I used it in my General Studies 100 course and we spend the last two-thirds of the semester with the common read text,” Bayer said. “Students were assigned to read so many chapters a week and we would then do thinks like group discussions and role playing.”

Bayer is using the common read and the activities associated with it to help students adjust.

“I focus on the theme… and the idea of transition from high school to the college setting by relating to the experiences of the characters of the book,” she said.

Bayer has a son that attends Brookings High School and she said they use a common read as well.

“My son was in an honors English class and they used it there… they focused a whole unit on the common read.”

Along with Brookings High School, Brookings Mayor Tim Reed also plays a big part in collaborating with SDSU’s common read committee.

“The mayor has a common read committee and he is also on the common read committee here at SDSU,” Nichols said.

Students here at SDSU on the common read committee also enjoy partaking in the common read program.

Hannah Larsen, a sophomore psychology and sociology major, who is part of the common read committee, said she really enjoys participating in the program.

“The common read has definitely helped me find common ground with people I’ve met on campus,” Larsen said. “I really liked that the Brookings community was so involved… I thought that brought the common read experience to a whole new level.”

Marin Plumb, a sophomore nutrition and food science major, who is also a part of the common read committee, said, “I really enjoyed the last common read. Reading about Greg Mortenson and then hearing him speak in person about his experiences was an incredible experience.”

Most students will be asked to begin reading the selected novel in the summer. Once they begin classes on campus in the fall, teachers will incorporate the material into the curriculum.