Common Reader Program

The Common Reader Program utilizes a single text across disciplines to reinforce the core curriculum’s goals and to provide students with multiple, scaffolded opportunities to hone transferable skills or so-called “soft skills.”

Who We Are    

A liberal education empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with the wider world.


The American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAUC) “defines a liberal education as an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g. science, culture, and society) as well as in-depth study in a specific area of interest. Liberal education helps students develop a sense of social responsibility, as well as strong and transferable intellectual and practical skills such as communication, analytical and problem-solving skills, and a demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings” (

The Department of Liberal Studies’ Common Reader Program encourages students to engage in critical reflection and discussion of contemporary local, state, national and global problems through the reading and analysis of a selected text in the department’s Core Curriculum courses.

The University Core Curriculum courses provide students with a foundation of knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world, develop principles of personal and social responsibility for living in a diverse world, and advance intellectual and practical skills that are essential for all learning.

common reader logo

Common Reader aims to build bridges across campus departments, organizations, facutly, staff, and students through sustained community engagement with a common book. The Common Reader book opens up opportunities for critical conversations across disciplines, classrooms, and campus activities. We are excited to welcome you into our community of critical and conscious readers and thinkers!

Program History
Program History

The Texas A&M Galveston campus Common Reader Program launched in the Fall 2018 with the inaugural selection for 2018-2019 of J.D. Vance’s memoir Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.

The Common Reader Program utilizes a single text across disciplines to reinforce the core curriculum’s goals and to provide students with multiple, scaffolded opportunities to hone transferable skills or so-called “soft skills.” These skills include, but are not limited to creatively solving problems, conveying information clearly and concisely in multiple modes, collecting, organizing and evaluating ideas, and critically analyzing and accessing concepts.

Consequently, enrollment in Common Reader courses afford students a transformational learning experience and an opportunity to reflect on enduring questions we face as a society from differing disciplinary perspectives and to synthesize the text’s multiple meanings from that broad range of positions.

The program also seeks to strengthen the campus community by providing transformational learning opportunities that enable intellectual engagement and critical thinking; facilitates deep learning through metacognitive reflection on the common reader experience; and provides both formal and informal opportunities for discussion of the selected text.

The Common Reader also offers Aggie Experience activities that offer a range of curricular and co-curricular encounters related to the text’s content to stimulate transformational learning. Finally, the Common Reader program emphasizes campus civility in its discussions by remaining mindful of TAMUG’s core values of Loyalty, Excellence, Respect, Leadership, Integrity and Selfless Service and employing those values in discussion of the text.

The Department of Liberal Studies Head and Professor of Political Science, Dr. JoAnn DiGeorgio-Lutz initiated the idea for the program in April 2017. In December 2017, Dr. DiGeorgio-Lutz, and Dr. Carol Bunch Davis, LIST Associate Professor of English and Assistant Department Head, were awarded a Diversity Matters Seed Grant for their research proposal in support of The Common Reader Program from the TAMU Office of Diversity. The grant helps support a Common Reader Student Ambassadors Program which enlists students in Common Reader courses to help promote the program to their peers and the campus community.

Current Book Selection    

Where We Come From by Oscar Cásares


Previous Reads    

J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (2016)

Harper Collins

Published in 2016, Vance’s New York Times bestseller recounts his coming of age experiences in the Appalachian towns of Jackson, Kentucky and Middletown, Ohio.  As he describes the impact of substance abuse and poverty on his family as well as countless other families in the Appalachian region, Vance also frames his memoir as the story of a “cultural emigrant” whose education in the U.S. Marine Corps, Ohio State University and ultimately, Yale Law School, facilitates his class mobility. Yet Hillbilly Elegy also highlights profound differences in access to opportunities available to rich and poor, educated and uneducated, and upper and working classes.

Selected Reading for Fall 2020    

Tara Westover’s Educated: A Memoir (2018)

Penguin Random House



Affiliated Faculty, Staff, and Student Ambassadors    

Affiliated faculty are Dr. David Baca, Dr. Timothy Ballingall, Dr. Katherine Echols, Dr. Kathryn Falvo, Mr. Adam Haney, and Dr. David Wallace.

Our affiliated staff member currently is Ms. Krista McBrien. Our Student Ambassadors are currently Ressia Hagood, Wyatt Lewis, and Adam Ross. 

Contact Us    

Dr. Rebecca Ottman
Instructional Assistant Professor
Department of Liberal Studies