[Fresh] One Book Villanova

Kelly Donio (kelly.donio@villanova.edu)
Mon, 24 Oct 2005 09:53:29 -0400

Fresh@News Interview with Dr. Terry Nance, One Book Program

Fresh@News: How did you decide to establish the One Book Villanova Program?

Dr. Nance: One Book Villanova evolved from conversations with a number
of key people on campus. Some colleagues and I attended a workshop at
the University of Maryland and learned of a similar program there. We
heard about it and we thought that it sounded like something that would
work at Villanova. We came back to campus and I spoke with Joe Lucia,
the Director of the Library, about this program. His vision was to make
the Villanova Library a unifying force on campus that brings the
community together. After many conversations of finding a way to bring
the campus together that also aligned with the mission of the
university, we established the One Book Villanova Program. The program
was made possible through the work of a group of dedicated faculty and
staff members from around campus and through a donation from a parent.

Fresh@News: What is the goal of One Book Villanova Program?

Dr. Nance: The ultimate goal of the One Book Villanova is to bring the
campus community together by giving all administrators, faculty, staff
members and students the opportunity of reading a similar book and
sharing the experience together. In addition, through the program, the
campus community will be more culturally aware.

Fresh@News: What credentials did you use in selecting the book?

Dr. Nance: We knew we wanted the selection to meet a few criteria.
First, the book must have broad appeal so that it is relevant to all
students, staff, faculty and parents. It must also be a suitable length
that is not too long. It was important for the book to have multiple
frames, in order to generate insights from many different perspectives
and to help the reader understand that there are in fact multiple ways
of knowing and understanding the world. The book should have novelty, so
that it is new, different, edgy and provocative. It should create
challenges, leading readers to ask ‘different’ questions and forcing
them to think differently. Within the book, there should be issues of
race, culture, gender and social justice for readers to ponder.

Fresh@News: How was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini selected as the
first book?

Dr. Nance: After evaluating many texts, we found that The Kite Runner
had all the qualifications listed above.

Fresh@News: How will faculty incorporate the chosen book into the classroom?

Dr. Nance: The book will be used in the core classes required for
freshmen, more so in the second semester than the first given that next
semester is based on the modern period. In addition, many Ethics
professors and some graduate courses are incorporating The Kite Runner
within their syllabus. While students receive the book free of charge,
faculty and staff were offered to purchase it at a greatly reduced
price. Some departments, such as the College of Commerce and Finance
bought a copy for every staff member. It’s exciting to hear the many
different ways faculty, staff and students are using the book.

Fresh@News: What types of events and programs do you plan on hosting
around the book?

Dr. Nance: At our kick-off event on September 28th, the Villanova
community was invited to take part in a Kite Festival and kite-making
activity. Generically, there will be discussion groups, performances,
lectures and movies all throughout the year that relate in someway to
The Kite Runner. Future upcoming events include “Lunch and Learn/Dinner
and Learn” where beverages and snacks will be served while faculty,
staff and students have the opportunity to discuss The Kite Runner. In
addition, the author of The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini is scheduled to
come to campus and speak to the community on February 7, 2006. There
will also be professional performances of scenes from the book in St.
Mary’s Chapel.

Fresh@News: What will the discussion groups entail?

Dr. Nance: The discussion groups will take place in the Holy Grounds
locations on campus. They will be informal, approachable and open to
anyone. Group leaders, who will range from faculty to students, will
lead the discussion. The One Book Program gives anyone in the campus
community a chance to lead a discussion. I envision students leading
groups of faculty and staff together. We are creating diversity on
campus through intergenerational communication, which is important,
especially within the workforce. This opens up the opportunity of
communicating across different lines and generations.

Fresh@News: How are you going to make students read the book?

Dr. Nance: We are not going to make anyone read the book! We have the
audacity to believe that we can create enough interest and enthusiasm
about the book that students will want to read. In fact, we’ve already
heard lots of positive feedback from students who’ve started or have
already finished reading the book. It’s been very positive!

Fresh@News: The motto of One Book Villanova is “Read it, Share it.” How
do you hope Villanova students will share what they have read?

Dr. Nance: Our motto is a play on words. While we encourage campus
members to physically share the book, we are also interested in them
sharing their ideas, responses and insights with one another.
Parenthetically, at the end of the spring semester, we intend to gather
the books and donate them to local schools.

Fresh@News: How do you think The Kite Runner will stimulate the
intellectual climate on campus?

Dr. Nance: While students only stay on Villanova’s campus between 4-5
years typically, staff members and faculty have built long careers here.
Through this program, we outreach to staff, giving them the opportunity
to learn and teach outside of the traditional classroom. This way, we
are all participating in what is an intellectually expanding event. Our
events relating to the book are challenging and stimulating. We are not
just asking if you read the novel, but instead are asking what you
learned from it, how it is influencing your life, how it is making sense
to you and what it means to be an intellectual. More than just quoting
from Plato or solving complex equations, but living the life of the mind
means to be able to see relationships between what we learn from these
books and our everyday life. The fundamental enterprise of education is
to make life better, and we should all participate in that. In the end,
everyone can learn something from someone else. We are all responsible
for one another’s education.

Fresh@News: In selecting books for the future, what credentials will the
novel have to meet?

Dr. Nance: Future books will have the same credentials and criteria as
now. We are open to every genre, ranging from nonfiction to fiction. In
future years, the book will be chosen before Fall Break, and the program
will run until Spring Break.

For further information please visit the One Book Villanova website at:
http://www.villanova.edu/homepage/onebook/

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