Common Community Reading
The Catawba College Common Summer Reading program, started in 2005, is an initiative intended to get you and your fellow incoming first-year students talking about important issues from the minute you arrive on campus. The program affords you an opportunity to participate in and contribute to the intellectual life of the College and provides you with a shared academic experience during Orientation and the first semester.
Themes in the reading are addressed in a variety of contexts: during formal discussion in Orientation, in individual First-Year Seminars, in the community, during informal conversation (with faculty, ALPHAs, coaches, staff, and other students), and in Lilly Center events such as the values and vocation dinner. Thus, the reading provides a common base for discussion among all members of the campus community for the entire year.
The 2020 common reading selection is Plato's Meno. When we first selected this common reading, we did so because we thought it would be a good exercise to introduce the expectations we have for you as undergraduate students and the expectations you should have of faculty and staff at Catawba College. As events unfolded in spring 2020, this remains a good reason to read Plato’s Meno, though the disruptions to all our lives caused by COVID-19 perhaps present an opportunity to communicate this in more concrete terms than those offered in our original “pre-virus” drafts. Two specific disruptions relate to this selected work and how we hope you approach it as the starting point of your unique Catawba education.
For many of you, “social distancing” meant loss of the last few months of time with friends as you began different post-graduation paths and missed or delayed celebrations with family and loved ones. This missed opportunity to celebrate an important milestone is the first disruption we wish to acknowledge. The primary formal graduation celebration goes by the name “commencement.” Many ceremonies include an explanation of using the term “commencement” the end of a period of education, marked by graduation, as the ceremony also marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life. Catawba’s faculty and staff were sad to postpose our Commencement ceremony, as the culmination of nearly a week of events during which we share and celebrate graduates’ achievements. Other than a speech or two, there are two components of our ceremony we want you to know about as you commence your Catawba experience; both are fairly standard across colleges and universities.
- 2019: "Teach Yourself to Learn"
- 2018: Winston Churchill's "Their Finest Hour"
- 2017: Martin Luther King's 1964 Nobel Lecture: "The Quest for Peace and Justice."
- 2016: "Stepping Out" by David Sedaris
- 2015: "Even Artichokes Have Doubts" by Marina Keegan
- 2014: Kenyon University Commencement address by the late David Foster Wallace
- 2013: Adam Gopnik's "The Real Work: Modern Magic and the Meaning of Life"
- 2012: Atul Gawande's "The Checklist Manifesto"
- 2011: Dave Egger's "Zeitoun"
- 2010: Greg Mortenson's "Three Cups of Tea"
- 2009: Kevin Sites' "In the Hot Zone: One Man, One Year, Twenty Wars"
- 2008: Jim Wooten's "We Are All the Same"
- 2007: Tracy Kidder's "Mountains Beyond Mountains"
- 2006: Khaled Hosseini's "The Kite Runner"
- 2005: Edward Tenner's "Why Things Bite Back"