Summer Reading Program

Miami welcomes new students to its engaged community of learners through the Summer Reading Program. In this important tradition, now 33 years old, we underline those activities we value most as a community: critical engagement with ideas; close interaction among faculty, staff, and students; and reading, listening, reflecting, talking, and learning as characteristics of active, responsible citizenship. As students' introduction to the types of dialogues they will engage in here with other learners, the summer reading program asks students to read a book during the summer and to return to campus in August prepared to discuss it with their fellow students and others in breakout sessions that immediately follow the Convocation ceremony

Participation in the Summer Reading Program is your first assignment as a university student. Your willingness to take the assignment seriously and to participate actively in group discussions in August may have important influences on your subsequent achievements as a Miami student. 

Summer Reading 2014 book: Freedom Summer

book cover

by Bruce Watson

What is the book about?

This year’s summer reading highlights the commitment, courage, and creativity of the more than 700 volunteers who gathered at Western College for Women, now the Western campus of Miami University, to train for Freedom Summer and eventually travel to a savagely racist Mississippi. Three participants -- Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman -- were brutally murdered in Mississippi just after leaving Oxford, sparking an intensive federal investigation and national outrage.  Watson’s book underscores the racist violence that saturated social and political life in Mississippi, the groups and individuals who challenged its practices, and the extensive amount of research, planning, and patience that attended their struggle for racial equality.

Why this book?
Featuring Miami’s Western Campus as one of its principal points of departure, Freedom Summer encourages readers to reflect on ways challenges that faced Freedom Summer’s volunteers might still persist, contemplate the roles members of Miami’s community have played and can still play as creative and critical citizens, identify the types of preparation they must undergo to serve such roles effectively and ethically, and consider the specific causes to which they might commit themselves today.  Furthermore, this book selection marks one of the many ways that Miami University will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer throughout 2014, including a culminating conference in October. 

What do I do after I read the book?

During Orientation, pick up your copy of this year's Summer Reading Program book, Freedom Summer by Bruce Watson, at the University Bookstore during Orientation. Read the book when you return home, think about some of the questions posed on the insert, try to keep a reader's journal where you jot down ideas about the text, consider creating and submitting your work for the Art Museum's Student Response Juried Exhibition or other programs you may be notified about, and bring the book with you when you return to campus in August. Immediately after Convocation, you will join others - usually from your residence hall - for small group discussion of the book with professors, student affairs staff, and/or returning upperclass students.

Convocation 2014 will be held on Friday, August 22, with the book’s author, Bruce Watson as featured speaker. The ceremony begins this year at 9:00 am and will be held at the Freedom Summer Memorial on Western Campus. As is our tradition, discussion groups will convene directly after the ceremony (sometime between 10:00 and 10:30) and run for approximately 45 minutes to an hour.