‘The Circle’ chosen as Penn State Reads 2016-17 common text

UNIVERSITY PARK — The 2016 incoming Penn State class will join author Dave Eggers in exploring the impact of technology on modern life by reading “The Circle,” the common book chosen for the 2016-17 Penn State Reads program.

“This is a dystopian novel that raises many important issues about technology, privacy, ethics, capitalism and big data,” said Jackie Edmondson, associate vice president and associate dean for Undergraduate Education, who co-chairs the program with Barry Bram, special assistant to the vice president of Student Affairs. “The book will serve as a catalyst for many rich conversations with students as they consider what it means to live in a world where so much of our lives are captured through modern technologies.”

Administered by Undergraduate Education, Student Affairs, the University Libraries and the Office for Student Orientation and Transition Programs, the common reading program is a collaborative initiative for first-year students that runs complementary to Penn State’s New Student Orientation. The program supplies each first-year University Park campus student with a copy of the chosen book to provide a shared experience and aims to encourage intellectual engagement within and beyond the classroom, stimulate critical thinking and foster a deeper connection to Penn State’s mission and core values.

Concepts that are introduced at New Student Orientation over the summer are further explored during Welcome Week and beyond into students’ first year at Penn State. Events based upon the book’s themes, including a visit by the author, will be planned throughout the 2016 fall and 2017 spring semesters.

“One goal of Penn State Reads is to help incoming students connect to the University through the book,” Edmondson said. “This book has broad relevance, and it is an opportunity for students to connect to many colleges, centers and programs at Penn State, including Communications, IST, Smeal College of Business and The Rock Ethics Institute, among others.”

Past books include “Beautiful Souls: The Courage and Conscience of Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times” by Eyal Press in 2013, “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in 2014 and “The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World” by Russell Gold in 2015.

To choose each year’s common text, the Penn State Reads steering committee calls for University community members to nominate books. Once the nominations are narrowed to a short list, volunteers are asked to read the final selections and complete short surveys on their impressions of the books to be used in the final book selection. Any member of the Penn State community can nominate a book by emailing pennstatereads@psu.edu.

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Last Updated April 19, 2017