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Sunday discussion groups kick off semester of KU Common Book events

Friday, August 22, 2014

LAWRENCE – As the fall 2014 semester begins, KU Common Book programming is set to launch with opportunities for engagement for students, staff and faculty.

The 2014-15 KU Common Book, “The Center of Everything,” by Laura Moriarty, will give the Jayhawk and Lawrence communities a unique opportunity to reflect on relevant cultural issues such as economic inequality and educational opportunity from the perspective of a rural Kansan in the 1980s. This year, the Office of First-Year Experience, which coordinates KU Common Book programming, aims to increase involvement and community engagement.  

All incoming freshmen and transfer students received a copy of “The Center of Everything” during orientation, and new students will participate in discussion groups across campus from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24. After the discussion groups, students will attend academic welcomes with the school in which they plan to study.

“We are excited by the increased number of faculty and staff who will be serving as facilitators for the discussion groups," said Sarah Crawford-Parker, assistant vice provost and director. “Engaging with faculty, staff and fellow students fosters a sense of belonging that plays an important role in helping new students persist at the university.”

The award-winning author will participate in a pair of activities, including a keynote address, “An Evening with Author Laura Moriarty,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, at the Lied Center of Kansas. She will also participate in a question-and-answer session as part of "Coffee and Conversation featuring Laura Moriarty," which is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 24, at the Natural History Museum.

As part of the KU Common Book program, an event titled “Is this Real Life?” will take place Thursday, Sept. 11, at the Spencer Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum. The event will feature the Spencer's 2014-15 KU Common Work of Art, “Palissy Platter,” a 16th century ceramic basin exemplifying the exploration of natural environments. The National History Museum’s 2014-15 Common Works of Art, a variety of objects and specimens that complement the flora and fauna represented on “Palissy Platter,” will also be featured. The Spencer and Natural History museums, the Office of First-Year Experience and the William Allen White School of Journalim & Mass Communications have organized the event.

Other events across campus related to “The Center of Everything” are listed online.

Additionally, “The Center of Everything” is integrated into all sections of University 101 and will be used in other courses across campus.

According to selection committee members, it was easy to choose “The Center of Everything” as the 2014 Common Book due to the engaging, yet challenging, approach the protagonist takes in narrating her primary and secondary education. In their recommendation, they noted the book “offers a wealth of opportunities for our first-year students to engage with one another and with the world around them at the beginning of their college experience. The protagonist’s ultimate decision to continue her intellectual growth through higher education will clearly resonate with our students, who have just made the same commitment to learning by coming to KU.”

For more information on programming or assistance in integrating “The Center of Everything” into a course or campus activity, contact the Office of First-Year Experience, (785) 864-4720.