Common Reading

RWU Common Reading Program

The Common Reading Program at RWU provides an introduction to academic life at the University for our new students and serves as a vehicle to bring the community together over a shared intellectual endeavor. This program was started in 2006 and has become a tradition that promotes the importance of academics, community, and dialogue.

Each year, various themes and topics that promote student student learning, academic exploration and discussion are considered. The author of the selected book is then invited to campus to provide a lecture and to participate in related activities, including classroom discussions.

The result is a program that encourages new students, upperclassmen, and faculty and staff to explore interesting topics together and to share a common experience during the first weeks of the new semester each year.  For the academic year 2019-2020 the common reading book will be used in the Roger Seminar, our first year seminar course, exposing all first year students to the book in a required core course.  

2019 Common Reading Selection

image of cover of the book 'Our Declaration,' RWU's 2019-2020 common reading

All first year students will read this year's selection as part of their Roger Seminar class.  Students will be introduced to the book during New Student Orientation, participating in a session entitled "New & Dangerous Ideas", which will include a classroom simulation and activities designed to make them think about the concept of community and how that relates to the start of their college experience.    

Students are encouraged to read the book over the summer and we invite family members to join in as well!

More information about this year's selection and the activities planned will be announced over the summer.  For more information about the common reading experience, please contact Vice Provost Bob Shea or Associate Dean of Student Success Allison Chase Padula.

Past RWU Common Reading Selections

The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World
by Jeff Goodell


Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria and Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum


Themes of identity and immigration using the documentary Ellis as a starting point for reflection and discussion


In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner


The Circle by Dave Eggers


Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War by Nathaniel Philbrick


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot


Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins


Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder


The World Without Us by Alan Weisman


The Working Poor by David Shipler


A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah


Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri