RSP 101 - College of Arts & Sciences
Unjustly imprisoned and waiting to die, Boethius penned his last and greatest work, Consolation of Philosophy, an imaginary dialogue between himself and Philosophy, personified as a woman. Reminiscent of Dante in places, Boethius's fiction is an ode-to-philosophy-cum-Socratic-dialogue. Joel Relihan's skillful rendering, smoother to the modern ear than previous translations, preserves the book's heart-rending clarity and Boethius's knack for getting it just right.
Listen to him on fortune: "We spin in an ever-turning circle, and it is our delight to change the bottom for the top and the top for the bottom. You may climb up if you wish, but on this condition: Don't think it an injustice when the rules of the game require you to go back down."
Consolation of Philosophy recalls the transience of the material world, the eternality of wisdom, and the life of the philosopher. Boethius was deeply influenced by the Platonist tradition, and this piece is one of the more powerful and artful defenses of a detachment that feels almost Buddhist. For anyone who's felt at odds with the world, Consolation is a reminder that the best things in life are eternal. Boethius must be right: the book is just as meaningful today as it was in the sixth century when he wrote it. --Eric de Place
Preceptor: Andrew Baruth, Physics and Baba Jallow, History
Widely sought as professional development leaders, Paul and Elder have conducted hundreds of workshops for university faculty all over the world. Their work speaks to the universal need to develop a sharp, open, and analytical mind. Tools that enable us to take charge of our learning and our lives are the very same tools that can help us all do more than merely survive in an economically and socially deprived environment. With them we can work independently or with others to produce positive changes. Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and Your Life provides a holistic theme, approaching critical thinking as a process for taking charge of and responsibility for one's thinking. Designed to foster the development of critical thinking skills and abilities, fair-mindedness, intellectual humility, and intellectual integrity, the approach is an eminently practical one. Numerous meaningful, yet common examples coupled with related activities allow the reader to examine and chronicle his/her own understanding and growth, providing the foundation for the lifelong application of critical thinking skills. A companion web site provides students with valuable resources to enhance their pursuit to be critical thinkers.
Preceptor: Ann Ozar and Amy Wendling, Philosophy
"Open this book and James Garvey is right there making real sense to you... in a necessary conversation, capturing you to the very end." (Ted Honderich, Grote Professor Emeritus of The Philosophy of Mind & Logic, University College London, UK). James Garvey argues that the ultimate rationale for action on climate change cannot be simply economic, political, scientific or social, though our decisions should be informed by such things. Instead, climate change is largely a moral problem. What we should do about it depends on what matters to us and what we think is right. This book is an introduction to the ethics of climate change. It considers a little climate science and a lot of moral philosophy, ultimately finding a way into the many possible positions associated with climate change. It is also a call for action, for doing something about the moral demands placed on both governments and individuals by the fact of climate change. This is a book about choices, responsibility, and where the moral weight falls on our warming world.
Preceptor: Al-Hindi Musa, Classical & Near eastern Studies
The extraordinary life of the man who founded Islam, and the world he inhabited—and remade. Muhammad's was a life of almost unparalleled historical importance; yet for all the iconic power of his name, the intensely dramatic story of the prophet of Islam is not well known. In The First Muslim, Lesley Hazleton brings him vibrantly to life. Drawing on early eyewitness sources and on history, politics, religion, and psychology, she renders him as a man in full, in all his complexity and vitality. Hazleton's account follows the arc of Muhammad's rise from powerlessness to power, from anonymity to renown, from insignificance to lasting significance. How did a child shunted to the margins end up revolutionizing his world? How did a merchant come to challenge the established order with a new vision of social justice? How did the pariah hounded out of Mecca turn exile into a new and victorious beginning? How did the outsider become the ultimate insider? Impeccably researched and thrillingly readable, Hazleton's narrative creates vivid insight into a man navigating between idealism and pragmatism, faith and politics, nonviolence and violence, rejection and acclaim. The First Muslim illuminates not only an immensely significant figure but his lastingly relevant legacy.
Preceptor: Scott Hendrickson, Political Science
In a sweeping narrative, the author of the megabestseller A Beautiful Mind takes us on a journey through modern history with the men and women who changed the lives of every single person on the planet. It's the epic story of the making of modern economics, and of how economics rescued mankind from squalor and deprivation by placing its material fate in its own hands rather than in Fate. Nasar's account begins with Charles Dickens and Henry Mayhew observing and publishing the condition of the poor majority in mid-nineteenth-century London, the richest and most glittering place in the world. This was a new pursuit. She describes the often heroic efforts of Marx, Engels, Alfred Marshall, Beatrice and Sydney Webb, and the American Irving Fisher to put those insights into action with revolutionary consequences for the world.
From the great John Maynard Keynes to Schumpeter, Hayek, Keynes disciple Joan Robinson, the influential American economists Paul Samuelson and Milton Freedman, and India's Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen, she shows how the insights of these activist thinkers transformed the world from one city, London, to the developed nations in Europe and America, and now to the entire planet. In Nasar's dramatic narrative of these discoverers we witness men and women responding to personal crises, world wars, revolutions, economic upheavals, and each other's ideas to turn back Malthus and transform the dismal science into a triumph over mankind's hitherto age-old destiny of misery and early death. This idea, unimaginable less than 200 years ago, is a story of trial and error, but ultimately transcendent, as it is rendered here in a stunning and moving narrative.
Preceptor: Maria Mena-Bohlke and Colleen Baade, Modern Languages & Literatures
Just Like Us tells the story of four high school students whose parents entered this country illegally from Mexico. We meet the girls on the eve of their senior prom in Denver, Colorado. All four of the girls have grown up in the United States, and all four want to live the American dream, but only two have documents. As the girls attempt to make it into college, they discover that only the legal pair sees a clear path forward. Their friendships start to divide along lines of immigration status. Then the political firestorm begins. A Mexican immigrant shoots and kills a police officer. The author happens to be married to the Mayor of Denver, a businessman who made his fortune in the restaurant business. In a bizarre twist, the murderer works at one of the Mayor’s restaurants—under a fake Social Security number. A local Congressman seizes upon the murder as proof of all that is wrong with American society and Colorado becomes the place where national arguments over immigration rage most fiercely.
The rest of the girls’ lives play out against this backdrop of intense debate over whether they have any right to live here. Just Like Us is a coming-of-age story about girlhood and friendship, as well as the resilience required to transcend poverty. It is also a book about identity—what it means to steal an identity, what it means to have a public identity, what it means to inherit an identity from parents. The girls, their families, and the critics who object to their presence allow the reader to watch one of the most complicated social issues of our times unfurl in a major American city. And the perspective of the author gives the reader insight into both the most powerful and the most vulnerable members of American society as they grapple with the same dilemma: Who gets to live in America? And what happens when we don’t agree?
Preceptor: David Vanderboegh, Modern Languages & Literatures
"He thought I'd forged my mom's name on the slip. How stupid is that? On this thing Mom just made a kind of squiggly shape on the page. That jerk didn't even think about what he was saying, didn't even ask himself why her signature might be weird. He's one of those people who think illiteracy is like AIDS. It only exists in Africa" (excerpted from Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow).
The Paradise projects are only a few metro stops from Paris, but here it's a whole different kind of France. Doria's father, the Beard, has headed back to their hometown in Morocco, leaving her and her mom to cope with their mektoub-their destiny-alone. They have a little help-- from a social worker sent by the city, a psychiatrist sent by the school, and a thug friend who recites Rimbaud. It seems like fate's dealt them an impossible hand, but Doria might still make a new life. She'll prove the projects aren't only about rap, soccer, and religious tension. She'll take the Arabic word kif-kif (same old, same old) and mix it up with the French verb kiffer (to really like something). Now she has a whole new motto: Kiffe kiffe tomorrow.
"A tale for anyone who has ever lived outside looking in, especially from that alien country called adolescence. A funny, heartfelt story from a wise guy who happens to be a girl. If you've ever fallen in love, if you've ever had your heart broken, this story is your story." (Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street). "Moving and irreverent, sad and funny, full of rage and intelligence. [Guène's] characters are unforgettable, her voice fresh, and her book a delight" (Laila Lalami, author of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits). Faïza Guène, the child of Algerian immigrants, grew up in the public housing projects of Pantin, outside Paris. This is her first book.
Preceptors: Gary Eller, Theology; Bruce Hough and Lindsay Pape, Fine & Performing Arts; Brian Kokensparger, Journalism; Mary Longo, English; Bill Raynovich, Emergency Medical Services
"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand" (Randy Pausch). A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?
When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave--"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"--wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living. In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.
Preceptors: Roxanna Recio and Enrique Rodrigo, Modern Languages & Literatures
In his 2003 National Book Award–winning memoir Waiting for Snow in Havana, Carlos Eire narrated his coming of age in Cuba just before and during the Castro revolution. That book literally ends in midair as eleven-year-old Carlos and his older brother leave Havana on an airplane, along with thousands of other children, to begin their new life in Miami in 1962. It would be years before he would see his mother again. He would never again see his beloved father.
Learning to Die in Miami opens as the plane lands and Carlos faces, with trepidation and excitement, his new life. He quickly realizes that in order for his new American self to emerge, his Cuban self must "die." And so, with great enterprise and purpose, he begins his journey.
We follow Carlos as he adjusts to life in his new home. Faced with learning English, attending American schools, and an uncertain future, young Carlos confronts the age-old immigrant’s plight: being surrounded by American bounty, but not able to partake right away. The abundance America has to offer excites him and, regardless of how grim his living situation becomes, he eagerly forges ahead with his own personal assimilation program, shedding the vestiges of his old life almost immediately, even changing his name to Charles. Cuba becomes a remote and vague idea in the back of his mind, something he used to know well, but now it "had ceased to be part of the world."
But as Carlos comes to grips with his strange surroundings, he must also struggle with everyday issues of growing up. His constant movement between foster homes and the eventual realization that his parents are far away in Cuba bring on an acute awareness that his life has irrevocably changed. Flashing back and forth between past and future, we watch as Carlos balances the divide between his past and present homes and finds his way in this strange new world, one that seems to hold the exhilarating promise of infinite possibilities and one that he will eventually claim as his own.
An exorcism and an ode, Learning to Die in Miami is a celebration of renewal—of those times when we’re certain we have died and then are somehow, miraculously, reborn.
Preceptor: Maoria Kirker, Reinert-Alumni Library
A thirteen-year-old girl and her father live in Forest Park, the enormous nature preserve in Portland, Oregon. There they inhabit an elaborate cave shelter, bathe in a nearby creek, store perishables at the water’s edge, use a makeshift septic system, tend a garden, even keep a library of sorts. Once a week, they go to the city to buy groceries and otherwise merge with the civilized world. But one small mistake allows a back country jogger to discover them, which derails their entire existence, ultimately provoking a deeper flight. Inspired by a true story and told through the startlingly sincere voice of a young narrator, Caroline, Peter Rock's My Abandonment is a riveting journey into life at the margins, and a mesmerizing tale of survival and hope.
Preceptor: Martha Habash, Classics & Near Eastern Studies
Larry Darrell is a young American in search of the absolute. The progress of his spiritual odyssey involves him with some of Maugham's most brilliant characters - his fiancée Isabel whose choice between love and wealth have lifelong repercussions, and Elliott Templeton, her uncle, a classic expatriate American snob. Maugham himself wanders in and out of the story, to observe his characters struggling with their fates.
Preceptor: Gordon Brubacher, Theology
A decade after the 9/11 attacks, Robin Wright’s Rock the Casbah took readers deep into rebellions against both autocrats and extremists that were redefining politics, culture, and security across the Islamic world. A year after the Arab Spring, she went back to Egypt and Tunisia where it had all started for an epilogue, The Morning After, describing the new reality—that creating a new order is as hard as ousting the old one. In this brilliant follow-up report, Wright describes the hopes and the turmoil of the region through the words of those who are living it.
Screwtape, a senior devil in Hell’s hierarchy, writes letters to his nephew Wormwood, who is attempting to corrupt his first mortal soul. The soul is that of a young Englishman whom the devils refer to as the “patient.” The Screwtape Letters consists of thirty-one letters that focus on different issues in the art of temptation. The letters, which were first published serially in a weekly magazine in 1941, are linked by the ongoing narrative of the young man’s ups and downs during his spiritual journey.
In this humorous and perceptive exchange between two devils, C. S. Lewis delves into moral questions about good vs. evil, temptation, repentance, and grace. Through this wonderful tale, the reader emerges with a better understanding of what it means to live a faithful life.
Preceptor: Maureen Dawson, College of Arts & Sciences
Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd." First published in 1946 now in a new translation by Matthew Ward.
Preceptors: Erika Kirby, Communication Studies; Mary Longo, English; and Michael McCandless, Fine & Performing Arts
How do you fight despair and learn to meet the world with a loving heart? How do you overcome shame? Stay faithful in spite of failure? No matter where people live or what their circumstances may be, everyone needs boundless, restorative love. Gorgeous and uplifting, Tattoos on the Heart amply demonstrates the impact unconditional love can have on your life. As a pastor working in a neighborhood with the highest concentration of murderous gang activity in Los Angeles, Gregory Boyle created an organization to provide jobs, job training, and encouragement so that young people could work together and learn the mutual respect that comes from collaboration. Tattoos on the Heart is a breathtaking series of parables distilled from his twenty years in the barrio.
Arranged by theme and filled with sparkling humor and glowing generosity, these essays offer a stirring look at how full our lives could be if we could find the joy in loving others and in being loved unconditionally. From giant, tattooed Cesar, shopping at JCPenney fresh out of prison, we learn how to feel worthy of God's love. From ten-year-old Lula we learn the importance of being known and acknowledged. From Pedro we understand the kind of patience necessary to rescue someone from the darkness. In each chapter we benefit from Boyle's wonderful, hard-earned wisdom. Inspired by faith but applicable to anyone trying to be good, these personal, unflinching stories are full of surprising revelations and observations of the community in which Boyle works and of the many lives he has helped save. Erudite, down-to-earth, and utterly heartening, these essays about universal kinship and redemption are moving examples of the power of unconditional love in difficult times and the importance of fighting despair.
Preceptor: Gary Michels, Chemistry
For years, Gary Smith, a Jesuit priest, led a familiar life in the Pacific Northwest. Then, one day in 2000, he left that life behind to spend six years among Sudanese refugees struggling to survive in refugee camps in northern Uganda. He traveled to this dangerous, pitiless place to be with these forsaken people out of a conviction that Jesuits should be going where no one else goes. Smith's journal is a vivid, inspiring account of the deep connections he forged during his life-changing experience with the Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Along the way, he discovered a suffering people who, despite being displaced by a brutal civil war, find the strength to let go of the many and deep sorrows of the past. Ultimately, They Come Back Singing is a window to the spiritual life and growth of a priest whose generous spirit and genuine love allow him to serve--and be served--in truly extraordinary ways.
Preceptor: HollyAnn Harris, CCAS; Baron Breland, Fine & Performing Arts; Sybille Harris, Modern Languages & Literatures; Julianne Soukop, Chemistry
An inspiring collection of the personal philosophies of a group of remarkable men and women Based on the National Public Radio series of the same name, This I Believe features eighty essayists - from the famous to the unknown - completing the thought that begins the book's title. Each piece compels readers to rethink not only how they have arrived at their own personal beliefs but also the extent to which they share them with others.
Featuring a well-known list of contributors - including Isabel Allende, Colin Powell, Gloria Steinem, William F. Buckley Jr., Penn Jillette, Bill Gates, and John Updike - the collection also contains essays by a Brooklyn lawyer; a part-time hospital clerk from Rehoboth, Massachusetts; a woman who sells Yellow Pages advertising in Fort Worth, Texas; and a man who serves on the state of Rhode Island's parole board. The result is a stirring and provocative trip inside the minds and hearts of a diverse group of people whose beliefs - and the incredibly varied ways in which they choose to express them - reveal the American spirit at its best.
Preceptor: Jeanne Schuler, Philosophy
Should we pay children to read books or to get good grades? Should we put a price on human life to decide how much pollution to allow? Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars, outsourcing inmates to for-profit prisons, auctioning admission to elite universities, or selling citizenship to immigrants willing to pay? In his New York Times bestseller What Money Can't Buy, Michael J. Sandel takes up one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: Isn't there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale? If so, how can we prevent market values from reaching into spheres of life where they don't belong? What are the moral limits of markets?
In recent decades, market values have crowded out nonmarket norms in almost every aspect of life. Without quite realizing it, Sandel argues, we have drifted from having a market economy to being a market society. In Justice, an international bestseller, Sandel showed himself to be a master at illuminating, with clarity and verve, the hard moral questions we confront in our everyday lives. Now, in What Money Can't Buy, he provokes a debate that's been missing in our market-driven age: What is the proper role of markets in a democratic society, and how can we protect the moral and civic goods that markets do not honor and money cannot buy?
Preceptor: Baron Breland, Fine & Performing Arts
In the past decade, Malcolm Gladwell has written three books that have radically changed how we understand our world and ourselves. Now, in What the Dog Saw, he brings together for the first time the best of his writing from The New Yorker over the same period. "Good writing," Gladwell says, "succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else's head." What the Dog Saw is yet another example of the buoyant spirit and unflagging curiosity that have made Malcolm Gladwell our most brilliant investigator of the hidden extraordinary (adapted from the publisher).