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Student-Led Discussion on Being There This Thursday

Posted 03/12/2018
Submitted by Katie Dydyn
Category: Campus Announcements, Student Announcements

Hillyer College’s grant-funded Common Reading, now in its second year, is Being There by Jerzy Kosinski.  New this year, students are taking the lead. The grant allows for every first-year student and faculty member of Hillyer College to get a copy.  The goal is to create a deep learning experience, where students see the inter-connectivity of courses and how a book in English might be used across other disciplines such as Psychology, Sociology, Academic Strategies, or Communication.


Students are taking the lead in many ways. A student group suggested the book.  At most universities, the common reading is determined solely by the faculty. Second-year students suggested this as a reading for the new first-year students and the Dean of the College along with the faculty agreed to pursue this. Faculty member Dr. Robert Dryden of the English Department held a workshop in January for all the faculty of the College that was designed to stimulate thinking about ways in which the Kosinski book could be integrated into curriculum.


As a strategy to help cultivate intellectual and social leadership, students are leading small group discussions of the book with their peers on March 15 at 12:15-1:45pm in the Shaw Center. Students who have been trained as discussion facilitators in classes by Dr. Rebecca Townsend of the Humanities Department will lead each small group of participants in a discussion about the book, the social world, and themselves. Students also improve their communication skills, in both speaking and listening, when they have these kinds of deep learning experiences that allow them carry on conversations outside the classroom.


The faculty across various disciplines have found many ways of integrating the book into their courses:

  • Academic Strategies is using the book to compare with another novel to find common themes and cultural experiences as the focus of a synthesis essay. 
  • English is doing a literature analysis as well as addressing the role of television and media in the book. Psychology students are learning how to diagnose the main character. 
  • Sociology students are discussing how the lack of socialization has impacted the main character.
  • Communication is considering the book as parts of units on notions of the self in interpersonal communication.
  • Effective Speech is focusing on the nature of ethos or credibility.


All are welcome to join us this Thursday!