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Smith Reads

A selection of book jackets

What is Smith Reads?

Smith Reads is a first-year reading experience for all students new to Smith College. This includes first-year students, Ada Comstock Scholars and transfer students. The program consists of three essential components:

  • Reading the assigned text before your arrival at Smith
  • Attending the guest author's speaking engagement
  • Participating in the in-house discussion of the reading

Smith Reads 2019 Selection

How the Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate book jacket
How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate

By Andrew J. Hoffman

Climate change—one of the most complex and urgent problems of our time—is disproportionally harming and impacting women and people of color around the world. In the 2019–20 academic year Smith embarks on a yearlong examination of climate change. Through integrative curricular and co-curricular channels, we will engage the campus on this complex topic from all of its angles, preparing us to understand better the challenges of climate change. The goal of the themed year is to reach and equip all students—no matter their backgrounds, pursuits and interests—for learning and action.

How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate makes a powerful case for a more scientifically literate public, a more socially engaged scientific community and a more thoughtful mode of public discourse. As a liberal arts institution, Smith emphasizes the importance of critically engaging with the world around us. As we begin a collective yearlong discussion on climate change, this book represents an important framing tool for engaging with each other and the world. 

Schedule

Monday, September 3, 2019

Author Reading
John M. Greene Hall, 4:30–5:30 p.m.


Why Smith Reads?

The first-year reading program at Smith has been in place since 1999. Since its inception, the program's mission has been predicated on the awareness that co-curricular activities are vital to a student's overall academic success and residential experience. Reading closely and deeply serves as a tool—a means—not an end in itself. Reading prompts participants to reflect on their own background, beliefs and experience. Engaging in reading with others provides all readers with a commonality to anchor further conversation.

While long-form written texts (books) comprise the basis of most first-year reading experiences, other forms of "texts," such as paintings, photographs, film, poetry and works of art are also considered valuable as potential and future reads.

As a community initiative, Smith Reads operates so that all incoming students:

  • are provided with a shared intellectual experience upon their arrival at Smith
  • may engage in a facilitated conversation about topics of intellectual, social and/or ethical significance with their house peers
  • are offered an opportunity to read and personally interact with critically acclaimed authors, scholars and artists
  • can interact immediately with Smith faculty and teaching staff invested in their learning

Smith Reads enables new students to consider the college’s essential capacities that are designed to guide their education. Close readings of the chosen text enhance the attributes we espouse as a liberal arts college, where we value critical thinking, respectful conversation, attentive listening and articulating ideas and thoughts.


Smith Reads Talks with Author Ruth Ozeki ’80

Learn more about Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale For the Time Being, which was the Smith Reads selection for 2016. The book was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Ruth Ozeki ’80 is currently the Elizabeth Drew Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College.