Common Ground Reading Initiative

The Big Sort Cover Common Ground is the college’s freshman-year reading program. The purpose of the program is to give the 900 incoming freshmen an opportunity to create community based on a shared reading experience. Books are provided to freshmen at their summer new student conference and asked to read the book before returning for fall classes.  

2013 Reading Selection: The Big Sort

This year’s Common Ground book is The Big Sort by Bill Bishop. The author uses startling new demographic data to show how Americans have been sorting themselves into homogeneous communities, not just by region and state, but by city and town. As a result, we are left with areas that are so polarized in their firmly-held beliefs that people can’t understand those who live just a few miles away.

Bill Bishop will speak on Monday, September 30 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Annenberg Presidential Conference Center. After his talk, there will be a book signing and reception. The event is free and open to the public. Parking will be available at the George Bush Presidential Library. 


    • Why did we create Common Ground?

      Research on student learning in higher education has emphasized several themes that are addressed by a program such as Common Ground: the importance of first-year experiences; the engagement of students in their undergraduate education; the effectiveness of integrating in-class and out-of-class experiences; the significance of intellectual challenge. The College of Liberal Arts believes that Common Ground provides opportunities for all of these important learning experiences in enriching undergraduate learning, especially for the first year.

    • Do other universities have programs like Common Ground?

      Yes, many other universities have had a common reading program for several years and have successfully documented these efforts as educationally sound ways to enhance undergraduate education. 


  • What do we hope to accomplish with Common Ground?

    The College of Liberal Arts seeks to create a community that fosters intellectual and social development within the context of our large and diverse university campus.  Through Common Ground, students can expect to become sharper readers; to have a greater understanding of diversity; to experience the camaraderie that comes with a shared reading experience; to gain a greater appetite for intellectual challenge; to participate in a national educational movement; and to experience first-hand the excitement of hearing a nationally-recognized author of a book they have studied.