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Committee for First Year Experience selects Mountains Beyond Mountains as common reading for the class of 2007

Loyola press release - June 20, 2007

(New Orleans)—The committee for the First Year Experience (FYE) at Loyola University New Orleans has selected Pulitzer-Prize winning author Tracy Kidder’s book, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a man who would cure the world, as next year’s common reading. The chosen overarching theme is, “purpose beyond self.” The book and the theme parallel the issues and culture of New Orleans, especially in this time of rebuilding and post-Katrina challenges.

The book addresses issues such as preferential options for the poor, healthcare and health literacy, deforestation, wetlands, social change, social justice, spirituality and religion, public policy, and law.

Though the program is slated toward first-year students, Loyola attempts to involve the entire campus community and parts of the New Orleans community in this endeavor. The committee is planning several community-wide events to support the theme and the common reading. The program has 20 book discussion group leaders signed up, with a goal of 30. Freshmen discussion groups will convene on Sunday, August 26 to discuss the FYE book. Kidder has been scheduled to visit Loyola on October 18, 2007. On Thursday, February 21, 2008, Gage Averill, ethnomusicologist, history and culture professor, and dean and graduate chair of the faculty of music at the University of Toronto, will lead a recital hour at 12.30 p.m. and present an evening lecture entitled "Music, Power, and Social Justice in Haiti."

The common reading program is an important component of the First-Year Experience. In early summer, copies of the selected book are mailed to incoming first-year students, discussions about the book are held during the Summer Preview sessions, and the book is incorporated into classroom and co-curricular educational activities throughout the year. Past book selections include Dead Man Walking, Savage Inequalities, Nickel and Dimed, and The Tipping Point, covering themes including capital punishment, education inequalities, and working poor.

The committee considers the following criteria when selecting the common reading: relation to “Thinking Critically, Acting Justly,” social justice component, author and/or dynamic speaker on topic available for campus visit, broad appeal, and ease of incorporation in classroom and co-curricular education.

Loyola University New Orleans is a Jesuit-Catholic institution with a total student enrollment of 4,724 including 800 law students.