After attending The Common Reading Program, a conference session at the 2008 San Francisco, California, First Year Experience national conference, Dr. Dixie Dennis, an Austin Peay State University (APSU) administrator, decided to create a similar reading initiative for APSU students. Following this conference, Dr. Dennis invited faculty from the academic colleges and the library, personnel from new student programs, public relations, the book store, student life and leadership, and an APSU student to form a committee. This committee established The Peay Read to provide a sense of community and to contribute to the academic experiences for APSU 1000 students. Unlike traditional first-year-experience common reading programs, The Peay Read opportunity includes sophomore, junior, and senior students.
The Peay Read was designed with the university vision in mind to “create a collaborative, integrative learning community, instilling in students habits of critical inquiry as they gain knowledge, skills, and values for life and work in a global society.” After reviewing several books, the committee chose Where am I Eating?: An Adventure through the Global Food Economy as the 2016 common reading. Written by Kelsey Timmerman, the book explores where our food comes from.
Suddenly, the apple juice that I gave my daughter wasn’t just apple juice; it was Product of China apple juice as were the canned mushrooms I added to my frozen pizza (my idea of gourmet cooking). The bananas were Costa Rican. The blueberries were Chilean. Our freezer had fish from Vietnam and shrimp from Thailand. Our fridge was a United Nations of calories and becoming every bit as global as our wardrobes. (Timmerman 5)
Through monthly meetings, committee members work diligently to plan related activities to enhance students’ knowledge, skills, and values as they participate in The Peay Read experience. These activities will culminate in Kelsey Timmerman’s address to the APSU student body and the Clarksville community on September 29, 2016.
Each year, all first-year students will submit creative responses centered on themes in the selected book. Finalists will be invited to a dinner with Kelsey Timmerman. For a complete schedule of Peay Read activities, please see Events.
This year, The Peay Read Committee hopes that after reading Where am I Eating?, our students reflect on how they might apply this message, ‘you will make your biggest impact by operating from your Axis of Awesome’ (Timmerman 283).