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Summer Reading

2015 Selection

The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future, by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway

cover image for The Collapse of Western Civilization by Naomi Oreskes and Erik ConwayThe year is 2393, and the world is almost unrecognizable. Clear warnings of climate catastrophe went ignored for decades, leading to soaring temperatures, rising sea levels, widespread drought and—finally—the disaster now known as the Great Collapse of 2093, when the disintegration of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet led to mass migration and a complete reshuffling of the global order. Writing from the Second People's Republic of China on the 300th anniversary of the Great Collapse, a senior scholar presents a gripping and deeply disturbing account of how the children of the Enlightenment—the political and economic elites of the so-called advanced industrial societies—failed to act, and so brought about the collapse of Western civilization.

The summer reading selection for the Class of 2019 is Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway's The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future. Professor Oreskes will join us in the fall for a public lecture during orientation.

After a review of a number of suggestions, the First Year Reading Committee believes it has selected a thought-provoking, challenging, affordable and accessible novel about the effects of climate change, a topic of pressing importance for us all.

You may find Naomi Oreskes' TED talk a useful introduction to the topics the book raises: https://www.ted.com/speakers/naomi_oreskes

Incoming students are expected to purchase and read the summer reading selection prior to arriving at Smith for Orientation. If purchasing the book is cost prohibitive please contact Anna Gohlke, Program Coordinator, at agohlke@smith.edu. There will be small group discussions held during Orientation.

Past Summer Reading Selections

2014: Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us by Claude Steele

2013: My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

2012: Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis by Alice Yaeger Kaplan

2011: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

2010: Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

2009: The Green Collar Economy by Van Jones

2008: Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey

2007: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

2006: Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder

2005: Kettle Bottom by Diane Gilliam Fisher

2004: The Gangster We Are All Looking For by Lê Thi Diem Thúy

2003: Atonement by Ian McEwan

2002: Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

2001: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

2000: My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki

1999: Respect by Sarah Lawrence Lightfoot