May 19, 2010
Leah Seupersad, 404-413-1354
ATLANTA - Even before incoming freshmen attend classes at Georgia State University this fall, they will have read a book that tackles topics such as diversity and the rewards of community service.
Georgia State University's First-Year Book Committee has chosen "Outcasts United," by Warren St. John, for the university's inaugural First-Year Book Program. Students will receive a complimentary copy of "Outcasts United" during the Incept: New Student Orientation, and are expected to read the book before the start of the semester.
"A First-Year Book Program is a proven way to generate intellectual interest and engagement among students," said Allison Calhoun-Brown, GSU's academic director of student retention. "Outcasts United" is a very interesting and thought provoking book. This program offers freshmen students an opportunity to engage it collectively and from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives. Reading and discussing it together as a class will help familiarize them with the kind of intellectual excitement that flows from the academic enterprise."
The selected novel tells the story of how Clarkston, Ga., transformed from a predominately white town into one of the most diverse communities in the country, after it was designated a resettlement center for refugees around the world in the early '90s. The story, which is told through the lens of a soccer team of refugee boys called the "Fugees," provides readers with lessons about how to create community in places where everyone is different.
The book introduces students to themes such as diversity, managing significant cultural differences, struggles associated with assimilation, as well as strong female role models. In addition, the book touches on issues that appeal to many possible majors, such as cultural anthropology, urban planning and economics.
"First year students need to become integrated into the university as soon as possible," said Risa Palm, senior vice president for academic affairs and Provost. "They need to understand what the expectations are and that it's really quite different from high school. This program gives students something in common that they all have read and that they all can discuss."
First year summer reading programs have been adopted at some of the best colleges and universities across the country, Palm said. The goals of Georgia State's First-Year Book Program are to provide freshmen with a common intellectual experience to stimulate discussion, critical thinking, and to develop a sense of community among first-year students, faculty and staff.
Georgia State's program is unique because the author of the book will be the keynote speaker at the University's Freshman Convocation on Aug.22. The book will also be incorporated into classes, such as 1101 English Composition and GSU 1010 New Student Orientation.
"Being able to meet the author of a book that you and your friends have read, and to hear that author speak are very special experiences," Palm said. "I would encourage students to make sure they read the book before they come to the convocation with the author, because they will get much more out of the experience that way."
For more information about the First-Year Book Program, visit http://www.gsu.edu/success/41544.html.