RU Reading Together

The Sixth Extinction

RU Reading Together

RU Reading Together: Common reading program 2017-18

The Sixth Extinction

Dear Students,

An ideal University community is one in which all members can engage in shared exploration of ideas that matter. The R U Reading Together common reading program, in which all members of the Rowan community are encouraged to read a selected book and then to explore the themes in that book via multiple avenues, is one of your first opportunities to engage in our lively academic community.

The 2017-2018 book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert, is a powerful account of humans’ role in the accelerating extinction of species in the modern era. Although mass extinctions are not new (in fact, there were 5 previously), the role of one dominant species – humans – in changing the course of evolution and existence for other species is unprecedented. Selected for the 2015 Pulitzer prize in nonfiction and one of New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year, The Sixth Extinction is a lively and engaging exploration of the Earth’s biodiversity and the implications of humans’ role in its reduction. Importantly, we learn it is not too late to change direction for the betterment of all of Earth’s inhabitants.

Why this book, this year? Rowan celebrates a long history of concern for the environment on campus, as well as exciting new developments including the Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park at Rowan University and the founding of the School of Earth and Environment.  However, The Sixth Extinction is a book that can be examined from many academic and social perspectives, including social and environmental justice, economics and political science, psychology and sociology, even medicine and public health due to changes in humans’ ecosystems. While the book addresses happenings back to the beginning of time, it is a very timely selection for the Rowan community.

This book is also a great introduction to explore the STEP UP concept of Preserving Resources. By participating in co-curricular activities around this and other STEP UP concepts, we hope you will achieve success inside and outside of the classroom as an engaged Rowan student. Just some of the ways in which you will likely encounter the book this year will be: discussions in Rowan Seminars and writing courses; featured lectures by Rowan faculty and invited scholars; "book club" type discussions in the residence halls; and much more. Through all of these experiences, you will experience what it’s like to join a scholarly community of curious people.

We very much hope that you will enjoy reading the book this summer, and we look forward to discussing these vital issues with you in the coming academic year.

Happy reading,

Rory McElwee, PhD
Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success

Drew Tinnin, EdD
Assistant Vice President for Student Life

Richard Jones
Vice President for Student Life & Dean of Students