2006 Teaching and Learning Symposium

3:00-4:30 p.m., April 25, 2006
Mary Gates Commons


Session Description

The Common Book Project

Christine Ingebritsen, Office of Undergraduate Education

The common book was chosen by a committee led by Christine Ingebritsen, acting dean of undergraduate education. Subtitled The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World, the book tells the true story of a Harvard Medical School professor's efforts to bring the tools of modern medicine to people around the world. Its choice reflects the desire to inspire students to become scholars and active participants in shaping an equitable global society. 

Having a common book provides an occasion to teach incoming students about important diversity and social justice themes.  Mountains Beyond Mountains provides an opportunity to reflect on different perspectives related to global health inequities, including postcolonialism, structural inequalities, social justice, claims of international morality, etc. In building learning communities around the book, we can also explore new models of social and intellectual engagement and pedagogical practices.

This year’s Common Book introduces the idea of the impact that one person may have in the solution of problems, whether they are global or local.  This initiative supports faculty and staff to help students connect their academic learning with experiences in the local community, to provide global learning opportunities, or to engage students in addressing problems that challenge current knowledge.  Experiential learning – e.g. service learning, research projects, study abroad – helps students to deepen their understandings, skills, and abilities by practicing and extending their learning in new situations.  As a result, students may: 

  • See themselves as members of a larger community at and beyond the University of Washington and envision their future civic involvement;
  • Deepen their academic learning through application and extension of knowledge in a different context;
  • Increase their understanding of and appreciation for different sources of expertise and diverse ways of problem-solving, in particular with regard to global health issues;
  • Become more active learners;
  • Practice skills of collaboration and communication;
  • Develop personal goals and future vision;
  • Explore career pathways, informed by both their experiential “work” as well as exposure to the context and day-to-day activities of professionals with whom they work.