Faculty discussion to enhance Reading Project experience

July 16, 2013 9:00 AM

Ryan Rivet

When the committee in charge of selecting this year’s Tulane Reading Project book decided on The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, there was no doubt it would be a poignant and powerful read for incoming first-year students, but the students, staff and faculty that make up the committee felt students would benefit from additional guidance from members of the faculty, says Trina Beck, director of Newcomb-Tulane College programs.

Tulane Reading Project

In The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander details a system that she believes has resulted in an astounding percentage of the African-American community being warehoused in prisons or trapped in a permanent, second-class status. (Photo by Ryan Rivet)

“We try to be more challenging than a lot of other university reading projects,” says Beck. “We were really looking for a book to spur discussion, and this book absolutely does that.”
Beck says the book is very topical given some of the issues New Orleans faces, and a healthy discourse of those issues is important for incoming students.
That discourse comes via online discussions on Blackboard covering each chapter, moderated by different members of the faculty who are posting questions and additional content about the themes in the book.
“This is a great opportunity for incoming students to start engaging in the academic experience at Tulane with some of our best faculty members,” says Beck.
Beck says that the faculty members leading the discussion are very passionate about the book and that passion really comes through in the posted material that she says will enrich the experience for the students.
“When the faculty members are engaged like this, then they’ll get the students engaged, and that’s always a good thing.”
Beck says that the discussion board dovetails nicely with events in the fall semester that will focus on the book. During Welcome Week, faculty members leading the discussions will participate in a panel. Another panel with Tulane political science professor Melissa Harris-Perry is in the works, and in October the author and acclaimed civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander will be on campus to discuss the book.

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