MHC's Common Reading for New Students

Posted: August 29, 2007

Author Elizabeth Kolbert will read from and discuss her book Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change, this year's MHC Common Reading, on Wednesday, September 19, at 7:30 pm in Chapin Auditorium. The book explores climate change and humanity's relationship to the Earth.

The acclaimed New Yorkerjournalist also will lead an informal discussion with students from 4 to 5 pm September 19 in the Cassani Lounge, Shattuck Hall. Kolbert will talk about her career and her experiences while writing the book. This event, cohosted by environmental studies, is the first in the Center for the Environment's yearlong Environmental Leadership series.

Since 2000, the first-year class has participated in the Common Reading as part of the orientation program for new students. Previous Common Readings have included Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains (2006), Ruth L. Ozeki's My Year of Meats (2005), and Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books(2004).

This fall, as in other years, the book will be the subject of student and faculty discussions. A Common Reading faculty panel will take place Thursday, September 6, at 7:30 pm in Gamble Auditorium. The panelists include Joe Smith, associate professor of art; Vinnie Ferraro, Ruth Lawson Professor of Politics; and Jill Bubier, Marjorie Fisher Associate Professor of Environmental Studies.

Dean of the College and philosophy professor Lee Bowie, who helped choose Kolbert's book, said: "This is an important book. Kolbert manages to bring us to the trenches of global climate change--to those who are studying it, and those who are already directly affected by it. Although some have criticized her for not stressing sufficiently the urgency of the problems, it is hard to argue with her dispassionate ability to personalize issues that too many people have managed to keep at arm's length."

President Joanne V. Creighton urged faculty to incorporate the book into their courses and invited all members of the community "to add this book to your summer reading and join us in discussions of it this fall." The book is available at the Odyssey Bookshop and other bookstores and online vendors. Several copies also have been placed on reserve in Williston Library.

Related Links:

Elizabeth Kolbert -

Common Read 2007 Details

MHC Common Reading 2006

MHC Common Reading 2005

MHC Common Reading 2004