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MSU Denver's Common Reading Program
They connect students to their peers and their campus, promote critical thinking skills and discussion capabilities, and can be considered a “common intellectual experience,” one of the high impact educational practices recognized by AAC&U to benefit college students from many backgrounds (Kuh, 2008). MSU Denver’s own common reading program, 1 Book/1 Project/2 Transform, was developed in 2010.
The 2021-2022 book selection is A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Indigenous author Alicia Elliott. In what has been called “an astonishing book of insightful and affecting essays,” Elliott explores mental illness, racial justice, parenthood, gentrification, poverty, representation, intergenerational trauma, and more.
1 Book/1 Project/2 Transform provides the book selection free of charge to faculty and staff who incorporate the book into their course or program, and to all students in those courses or programs.
Each Fall, the author of the book comes to campus (in-person or virtually) to provide a keynote talk about the book and to engage with students through a Question & Answer session, book signing, and/or other events. Additional programming includes an annual student essay contest (with winners receiving invitations to a VIP reception with the book’s author), panel discussions, film screenings, etc.
“By intentionally creating this relationship between the curricular and co-curricular components of the common reading program, the gap between students’ in- and out-of-classroom learning is narrowed and learning is deepened” (Laufgraben, 2006, p. 73).
Participants in 1 Book/1 Project/2 Transform are encouraged not only to read and discuss the book, but to also volunteer with a service project related to the book’s theme. We work with campus and community organizations to develop service opportunities that relate to the social justice issues addressed in the book. We work with campus and community organizations to develop service opportunities that relate to the social issues addressed in the book. For example, recent partners have included MSU Denver’s Immigrant Services Program, the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, the Auraria Sustainable Campus Program, and the Denver Botanic Gardens. Through active connection to organizations like these, we seek to engage students in meaningful participation in service to the community.
The event was held Wednesday November 10, 2021 in the Tivoli Turnhalle, and was followed by a book signing.
All faculty, staff, and students were invited to listen to Elliott discuss her collection of personal essays that draw on a life spent between Indigenous and white communities. By exploring a wide range of topics, including mental illness, racial justice, poverty, representation and more, Elliott’s work offers insight into the ongoing legacy of colonialism and treatment of Indigenous people in North America.
For more information on the 1 Book/1 Project/2 Transform program, please contact Professor Randi Smith at [email protected]