SIP 6.7 1Book/1Project/2Transform

Thirsty for a Strong Instructional Practice?

Universities have traditionally been seen as places where students can participate in active intellectual debate around current events and ideological topics that impact society. At MSU Denver, these conversations are happening in relative isolation all the time—but campus-wide dialog can be hard to achieve with our commuter students and the rigorous demands of disciplinary content. Have you ever wanted to find a way to engage your students in campus conversations, but struggle to do so in a way that fits in to your class time and curriculum?

Take a SIP of This: 1Book/1Project/2Transform

MSU Denver has a great program that allows you to do just that. 1Book/1Project/2Transform is the Roadrunner interpretation of a common reading program, adapted and designed to fit the needs of our particular demographic of busy commuter and non-traditional students. The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) states here that “Common readings programs of all types are helping bridge divides on campus: between disciplines, between student life and academic affairs, between the orientation period and the first semester” and suggests that “…well-planned common reading programs signal the importance of reading in college” and of “discussion and respect for diverse viewpoints.” By participating in the common reading and shared activities with your class, you help students learn to belong to an intellectual cooperative whose benefits are felt in the classroom but extend across campus and into the community.

The foundation of the program is the identification of a book for everyone to read, and the invitation of the book’s author to a speaking engagement on campus. This year’s book is In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero. This moving autobiography, narrated by the accomplished “Orange Is The New Black” and “Jane the Virgin” actress, tells the story of how she came home from school one day to find that her Colombian-born, immigrant parents had been deported. The book details the experience of 14-year-old Diane, an American citizen, as she struggled to survive and thrive in the aftermath of this removal. The topic is especially timely and urgent for MSU Denver students in the face of the recent termination of the DACA program and in light of the high number of DACA and ASSET students that MSU Denver serves.

The highlight of the program will be the author visit on Wednesday, October 25 at 12.30 p.m. in the Tivoli Turnhalle. This event is typically attended by entire classes, visiting K-12 students, and community members, so bring your class early to get a seat! Other activities associated with the book and the author visit can be found here.

If you would like to integrate the book into your class as part of your fall or spring curriculum, there is a desk copy request form here. Additionally, there is an extensive Teaching and Learning Guide that offers ideas on writing prompts, discussion topics, and classroom activities that revolve around the book’s topic and storyline.

1Book/1Project/2Transform is hosted by First Year Success in collaboration with the Applied Learning Center, and seeks to include all students, faculty and staff on campus. If you have ideas for future books, or for activities associated with common readings on campus, please reach out to the program co-chairs, Lunden MacDonald at or Randi Smith at

Still Thirsty? Take another SIP of 1Book/1Project/2Transform

  • Inside Higher Ed has an interesting article on common reading programs across the country.
  • This literature review details the common reading choices of multiple institutions from 2015. Links are also available to similar lists from 2007 – 2014.
  • And here is a more critical approach of common reading programs in a Chronicle of Higher Education blog.

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