Nov/Dec 2009 Your Monthly Source of Community Service-Learning News VOL. 7, NO. 2

2009-2010 AY CSU Campus One Book Selections

CSU "One Book" selections for the 2009-2010 academic year. Design by Katie Covington, CSU Chancellor's Office

Building Community continued...

The Ape and the Sushi Master by Frans de Waal

San Diego State’s Common Experience program is all about dialogue. This year’s theme, Darwin’s Voyage, Humanity’s Journey,” expands this local initiative to include a worldwide discussion in celebration of the bicentennial birth of Charles Darwin (1809). In reading, Frans de Waal’s The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist, the campus is hosting a variety of events honoring Darwin and engaging the community in exploring the impact of his work on contemporary thought and culture. For example, the San Diego Natural History Museum is featuring an exhibit titled, Darwin: Evolution/Revolution until Feb 28, 2010, study abroad students submitted photos capturing their international experiences accompanied by a 50 word narrative reflecting the theme: “…underneath all of those fascinating cultural differences... resides a shared humanity that makes even the most naïve visitors feel at home in cultures across the globe,” (Frans de Waal), and a wiki has been developed for faculty to share teaching materials supporting the Reading and Writing Studies 200 course.


Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

Summer 2002 marked the initial year for the Summer Reading Program. This common reading experience is designed to provide a strong intellectual and social experience for incoming students, strengthen students’ connection to campus and contribute to their academic success. First year students are required to read the selected text and transfer students are given the option to participate. Free books are distributed to freshmen at orientation and to all faculty members wanting to participate. The book is selected by a committee comprised of faculty, students, and the Vice President for Student Affairs. A student coordinator maintains a website, which features a study guide (developed by faculty), links to related websites, a student written journal about the book, and a mediated email discussion forum. Presentations during orientation by the student coordinator and the faculty explain the project and the expectations for participation.The writer or other speaker related to the book attends subsequent campus events to speak about the book.


CSU Chico Town Hall, Photographer: Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record Photo Caption:  A panel discussed homeless issues in a town hall meeting at CSU Chico based on the Book in Common "The Soloist" on Wednesday, October 14, 2009 in Chico, Calif. (Photograher: Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)


CSU Northridge - Violins of Reminiscence Photo Caption:  “Violins of Reminiscence” is the third-place winner from CSUN’s Freshman Celebration.The grand prize winner for the Freshman Celebration was the program’s first-ever live performance, scripted by the students in response to a panel of four visitors from the LAMP project (3 formerly homeless women and a social worker) who visited their class.

SDSU student Holly Schott's first-place winning photo

Photo Caption: Holly Schott received first place in SDSU’s 2009 Common Experience International Photo Contest. This photo was taken during Holly’s Independent Study Abroad Program: Semester At Sea, 2008 in Agra, India. Holly writes, “Upon arriving at the Taj Mahal, we were trying unsuccessfully to put on our Saris, when we were suddenly surrounded by three giggling women. As they helped us with the complex attire, they quickly befriended us and told us that, 'American friends now look like REAL Indian Girls!'"



Fresno State
recently published the latest issue of its alumni magazine with a special focus on service.This issue, entitled Faces of Service, highlights students, staff, faculty, administrators and alumni who have made community service an integral part of the Fresno State educational experience.The magazine can be found online at

CSU Northridge students participated in a homeless simulation learning not only the importance of giving back, but the day-to-day struggles of being homeless. KCAL 9 news video coverage.


Building Community: One Book at-a-Time

Common Reader programs have been sprouting across U.S. cities, counties and universities since the dawn of the millennium. Connecting people through shared intellectual experiences - from celebrating and learning about local history, to challenging and inspiring real-world events, to formal and informal dialogues with authors and community members, to artistic interpretations through film, theater and art, to read-alouds in libraries, on street corners, at community centers and university campuses.

This month’s issue recognizes how some CSU campuses are building community both locally and globally through the written word utilizing many formats. Listen to just one, as Colleen Bentley, Director of Special Projects, CSU Chancellor's Office reads an annotated excerpt of When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka (.mp3)

The Lakota Way by Joseph M. Marshall III

CSU Bakersfield’s Runner Reader program is linked with the university’s Roadrunner First-Year Resources for Undergraduate Success and High Achievement (RUSH-A) Program which supports students in “transition” (first-year, transfers/re-entry). One unique feature of the Runner Reader program is its outreach and inclusion of local high schools, thus introducing high school juniors and seniors with a glimpse of university life. Mirroring the academic rigor of university students, high school students read the common book, engage in classroom discussions and lessons, participate in an essay contest and attend “an evening with the author” event on campus, including a question-and-answer forum and book signing.  The program’s outreach efforts rely heavily on small grants and donations to support book donations, a trip to the campus and the essay contest. This year, a $1,000 grant from the Target Corporation allowed the program to purchase 107 books to distribute to 11th and 12th grade students.  

Creating a World Without Poverty by Dr. Muhammad Yunus

CSU Channel Islands “celebrates” the joys of a shared intellectual experience by coming together to read a common book, host formal and informal discussions and learn from one another as part of their Campus Reading Celebration program. This year, in reading Dr. Muhammad Yunus’ book, Creating a World Without Poverty, the campus community will examine whether or not the world’s capitalistic market system can be used effectively to alleviate our most prevalent global social issues – from poverty to lack of education, to inequality and hunger.  The centerpiece of this year’s “celebration” will be a visit by Dr. Muhammad Yunus on Friday, February 26, 2010.  A new video, Introduction to the California Institute for Social Business, provides an overview of Dr. Yunus’ “pioneering model for nothing less than a new, more humane form of capitalism.” 

The Soloist by Steve Lopez

Through their reading of The Soloist, the Chico community has gathered together to promote awareness and solutions to the problems of homelessness and mental health in Chico and the surrounding areas. A look at the impact of the community book in common reading program shows that it is touching the lives of many in Butte County in profound ways. For example, Senior Companions, Foster Grandparents and Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) AmeriCorps volunteers have served meals, knitted and crocheted scarves for the Jesus Center, and have had book discussion with clients in their homes. Volunteers have commented that the most stimulating topics of conversation have been people’s concern and confusion around the “stigma” of mental health and the financial burden in caring for the homeless – a reflection of what we as a society continue to grapple with.  CSU Chico students have volunteered 300 hours at the Torres Shelter, worked on remodeling the facility, and created a Health Fair for its residents.  Projects are also in works for both the Torres Shelter and the Jesus Center to raise awareness and help secure food and clothing. Through a mini grant awarded by the Chancellor’s Office the campus hosted a town hall meeting on homeless and mental health. More than 200 people attended – students, faculty, service providers, shelter workers and homeless individuals.

The Soloist by Steve Lopez

CSU Northridge has integrated their Freshman Common Reading selection as an entire campus community experience. Steve Lopez, author of The Soloist kicked-off the 2009-2010 academic year at the Freshman Convocation giving an inspiring keynote speech (video). And since September, this community building adventure has continued, with a music and media exhibit, participation in Survive the Night, and a fundraiser for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. 140 people also had the opportunity to visit places in downtown LA that were mentioned in the book – from Disney Hall, to the LA Philharmonic to Skid Row - as part of CSUN’s Discover, Inquire, & Grow in Los Angeles (DIG LA), a intercultural communication and cultural diversity awareness program.  

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

Begun in 2008, as a collaborative endeavor between the English Department and Community Engagement Center, the success of CSU Sacramento’s One Book program lies in its campus-and-community-wide partnerships for both fiscal and programming support. The University Staff Association purchased 15 books that were made available for borrowing, the library developed displays from the Special Archive Collections of the Japanese Internment, the Multi-cultural Center joined the English Department in hosted a film series, The campus’s Japan Club organized an Origami-a-thon aiming to promote world peace by folding 1,000 origami paper cranes, and campus and community members shared their personal stories about the Internment and its impact on their lives. More than 1,200 campus and community members attended an evening discussion with author, Julie Otsuka, and 50 plus faculty, peer mentors and EOP (educational opportunity program) tutors integrated the book into their curricular and co-curricular activities.

CSU Sacramento - Making History PersonalPhoto Caption: Making History Personal: Japanese American Council League (JACL) community member lecture at CSU Sacramento

The Color of the Sea by John Hamamura

Since its inception in 2006, San José State’s Campus Reading program continues to inspire students to read, participate in group-led discussions and attend special Campus Reading events. Bay area author, John Hamamura’s selected reading from his novel, The Color of the Sea, which chronicles the journey of a young man trained as a samurai who moves from Japan to Hawaii to California during the 1930s and 40s, brought tears to many of the 160 plus participants at an event hosted by the Center for Literary Arts. Facebook and a newly created blog provides on-going communication forum to share information, events and questions with the entire campus community. The book selection committee consists of students and a representative from each college and division.

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