University News

Student group seeks to grow First Readings program

The 6,000 Voices group aims to have students read and debate the Open Curriculum

Staff Writer
Thursday, April 18, 2013

A student group affiliated with the Dean of the College, 6,000 Voices, is working with the Undergraduate Council of Students to extend the First Readings program — in which incoming first years are assigned a summer reading assignment — to include all four years of college.

The program, which would be optional, would ask students to read the Maxwell-Magaziner report — the document that led to the creation of the Open Curriculum — in addition to the book chosen for First Readings, said Sarah Forman ’13, former Herald staff writer, who proposed 6,000 Voices. Participants would also meet in student-led discussion groups in their second, seventh and eighth semesters, in addition to the initial meeting during orientation.

According to the proposal, the program aims to “(help) students actively engage with their diverse peer group and with the unique features of Brown’s Open Curriculum.”

Forman said the group devised the idea last summer, after talking to people who expressed interest in getting to know people who “didn’t think the same way.”

“After First Readings, people never see each other again,” Forman said. “This is a group that brings together everyone.”

The program “will enable Brown to conceptualize both their pasts and post-Brown futures in a meaningful way,” wrote Manya-Jean Gitter ’13.5, chair of the Academics and Administrative Affairs Committee of UCS, in an email to The Herald.

The group has received support from individual members of groups such as Brown Conversation, the Third World Center and Brown RISD Hillel, Forman said.

“We want to spread a campus-wide culture of reflection and discussion,” Forman said. “This is something people want.”

Participants will read the same book chosen as the First Readings book, as these books remain pertinent to University life and history, she added.

Though the group has not yet set an exact timeline, Forman said a new executive board will run the program after she graduates. It will launch a pilot program before expanding it to the rest of the community.

Students had mixed responses to the proposed program.

“I don’t see how it could hurt, but I wouldn’t do it,” said Myron Lam ’15. “I don’t see how the First Readings prepared us for college.”

“It’s a useful program,” said Aniqa Anwar ’14. “It’s good to introduce people to the seminar style of learning … (but) everyone already has so much work and readings.”

Kavin Nunez ’15 said the program would be hard to organize, but “it’s a great idea, and it would be nice to touch base with everyone in class again and have a common ground.”

A previous version of this article stated that groups such as Brown Conversation, the Third World Center and Brown RISD Hillel support 6,000 Voices. In fact, individual students within these groups, rather than the institutions themselves, have endorsed the program.

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