Common Read

What is the Common Read?

The purpose of the Common Read is to introduce new students to topics of equity and inclusion that can be integrated in their social and academic life. The program provides a common experience for all new students while strengthening a sense of belonging from their first days on campus, and it engages students in intentional ways of thinking across disciplines, experiences, and strengths.

2021 Common Read:

Waste: One Women’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret by Catherine Coleman Flowers

More on Waste:

As described by The New Press, Waste “tells the story of systemic class, racial, and geographic prejudice that foster Third World conditions, not just in Alabama, but across America, in Appalachia, Central California, coastal Florida, Alaska, the urban Midwest, and on Native American reservations in the West. Flowers’s book is the inspiring story of the evolution of an activist, from country girl to student civil rights organizer to environmental justice champion at Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative. It shows how sanitation is becoming too big a problem to ignore as climate change brings sewage to more backyards, and not only those of poor minorities.”

More on Catherine Coleman Flowers:

Flowers is an environmental activist bringing attention to the largely invisible problem of inadequate waste and water sanitation infrastructure in rural communities in the United States. As founding director of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (CREEJ), Flowers builds partnerships across social scales—from close neighbors, to local elected officials and regional nonprofits, to federal lawmakers and global organizations—to identify and implement solutions to the intersecting challenges of water and sanitation infrastructure, public health, and economic development.

Flowers is broadening the scope of environmental justice to include issues specific to disenfranchised rural communities and galvanizing policy and research to redress failing infrastructure that perpetuates socioeconomic disparities in rural areas across the United States. Catherine Coleman Flowers received a BA (1986) from Cameron University and an MA (2015) from the University of Nebraska. Previously, Flowers has worked as a high school teacher in Detroit, Michigan, and Washington, D.C.

Access a digital copy of the Common Read!

Past Common Read texts:

Cover of Latehomecomer

2019: The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang

Acts of Faith cover

2020: Acts of Faith by Eboo Patel