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Boise State’s Digital Campus Read Offers Broad Perspectives

Administration building and a sculpture

First-year students at Boise State University, and others who engage in this year’s Campus Read program, will hear from one of the most storied journalists and essayists of her generation, a trans woman of color, the conservative thinker that sparked a violent protest at Middlebury College, and even more diverse and divergent voices.

For several years, Boise State has embraced the “Campus Read” as a way to introduce important authors and their works to incoming students, and to encourage students to read beyond textbooks. Again this year, the Campus Read is not a single book but a collection of essays and articles from a wide variety of writers and thinkers. And it is a digital book, making it even more easily accessible.

Andrew Finstuen, dean of the Honors College and interim vice provost for undergraduate studies, led the team effort to “reimagine the campus read.”

“Two core ideas guided our conversations: We wanted to expand the range of topics and voices covered in the Campus Read and we wanted to expand readership by delivering the texts electronically,” Finstuen said. “Students take classes ranging from the sciences to the humanities, and they take them with a diverse array of fellow students. This reader reflects the many areas of study a freshman will take in his or her first year, and it offers a great variety of perspectives from authors of all backgrounds.”

The idea is to expose students to ideas and viewpoints they may not otherwise take the time to explore, and to include a broad enough series of issues and topics to give faculty across campus a greater chance to include portions of the Campus Read than would have been possible from a single book.

Students will read a short essay by Joan Didion exploring whether self-respect comes from choices, be they failures or triumphs. And they will delve into conservative thinker Charles Murray’s thoughts on how the gap between the upper middle class and the working class has changed between 1960 and 2010.

Other authors included this year are technology journalist Nicholas Carr, author and Atlantic Monthly correspondent Ta-Nehsi Coates, Muslim activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai, National Review co-founder Frank Straus Meyer, Columbia Business School professor Katherine W. Phillips, food and climate writer Michael Pollan and more.

The essays will be incorporated into the University Foundations general education courses required of all Boise State students and into other classes and coursework as faculty choose.

Each year, the Provost’s Office, President’s Office and a committee on campus have worked together to select a book to raise awareness for one’s relationship to the community; promote diverse perspectives; and to create a climate for innovation and creative solutions.

Past reads have included David Brook’s “The Road to Character,” Terrie M. Williams’ “The Odyssey of KP2” and “A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention” by journalist Matt Richtel.