The UW Tacoma Library in conjunction with The UW Tacoma Center for Equity and Inclusion seeks to form a pilot diversity book group for the Fall quarter of 2018. This book group is modeled off of the American Library Associations Great Stories Club, but with adaptations that make it more relevant to college students, on an urban serving campus. The Diversity Book Group Pilot is envisioned as a thematic reading and discussion program that will engage UW Tacoma students through literature-based outreach.
We feel that The UW Tacoma Library and The UW Tacoma Center for Equity and Inclusion offer an ideal partnership for this type of conversational group which brings together a group of students to read a diverse and inclusive text about contemporary issues.
In a 2013 Dutch study by Bal and Veltkamp, readers of fiction who were emotionally transported into the narrative showed an increase in displayed empathy. Similarly, in a 2012 study out of Washington and Lee University showed readers of fiction showed an increased empathy as well as prosocial behavior over a control group that read nonfiction. Based on these findings, the goal of this group is to allow space for students to interact with a narrative regarding issues faced by themselves, fellow students, and community members on our urban-serving campus. These issues might include, but are not limited to, poverty, hunger, incarceration, violence, and other complex current issues.
Structure of pilot:
The goal of the pilot is to recruit 5-10 students to participate in a quarter long reading group. It is our plan to coordinate with a UW Tacoma faculty member and have students participating in this book group receive extra credit for their course.
The students will be provided with copies of a selected text that is theirs to keep, and be given a reading schedule. The group will meet bi-weekly to discuss the story, themes, and reactions. As needed, we will invite specialists from the campus community and beyond to attend the meetings, such as social workers, mental health specialists, and other experts.
At the end of the quarter, the CEI will host a speaker related to the text (possible author, community organizer, etc) and the students who completed the reading group will have a hosted lunch with the speaker ahead of the public speech.
Inspired by the UW Tacoma Strategic Plan, the goals of the Diversity Book Group are to create a greater awareness and discussion of the experiences that are being had by our students, staff, and community members. By interacting with narratives that reflect different experiences, it will provide opportunities to dialogue with peers about shared and disparate experiences. Additional benefits include creating community by reducing isolation, and enhancing campus education through peer-based discussion groups.
As this program is a pilot, we see it as exploratory, with a longer-term goal of once or twice annual repetition (Fall and Winter quarters, for example).
Collaboration between the two organizing campus units is a notable benefit as well.
The pilot will be considered successful by meeting one or more of the following criteria:
- Having 5-10 students enroll
- Having 3-5 students complete the pilot program
- Publishing a library story or having a campus news article about the program
We will integrate a post-pilot assessment by surveying the participants to learn more about the impact and value of this program.