ESC READS: Collegewide Common Read Event to be Hosted at the 2016 Student Academic Conference

By Sophia Mavrogiannis, director of academic support, SUNY Empire State College

October 6, 2016

Current 1 imageThis academic year, SUNY Empire State College is piloting its first ever collegewide “common read”— ESC Reads, at the 2016 Student Academic Conference (StAC).  The inaugural book (selected by a committee of faculty, staff and students) is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

So what exactly is a common read? 

The concept of a collegewide common read is not new. In fact, colleges and universities have been hosting common read for decades. These programs generally aim to provide students from different backgrounds with a common intellectual experience, encourage them to think about ‘the big issues’ and connect the entire college community across disciplines and roles.

Where did we get the idea to start one?

After a successful mini-pilot in Buffalo, NY last year, StAC seemed like the next logical step in bringing this opportunity to a larger audience and connecting it more explicitly to collegewide student academic life. StAC has long been a place where SUNY Empire students from across the state and globe come together to share ideas, network and have fun. This, along with the robust schedule of presentations and the social activities happening at StAC, make it the ideal place to host a student-moderated panel discussion of the selected book during one of the conference’s concurrent sessions as well as an informal book discussion after dinner Friday evening.

Sounds great! Tell me more about the book!

Between the World and Me, hailed as “required reading” by Toni Morrison, is a timely work of creative nonfiction that blends historical analysis, cultural criticism and memoir to examine the ways racism structures American life. Written in the form of letters to Coates’s son, it attempts to answer (according to the book jacket), the following questions: “What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves of its burden?”

How can I participate?

Read the book and join us for discussions at StAC and later in the fall! A limited number of freebooks are available to students; however; books also can be purchased through online book retailers and at bookstores nationwide, or borrowed through local libraries.

Complete this FORM for a chance to receive a free book!

Alternative formats are also available for students needing access to print materials due to a diagnosed sensory, learning or medical disability.  The Office of Collegewide Disability Services will make an electronic version of this book to be used with assistive technology. For more information about accommodations, please contact

Happy Reading, and hope to see you at one of our events!

For more information and to register for the 2016 StAC go to

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