2019-2020 Common Theme: Citizenship
Every year, St. Edward’s chooses a Common Theme that creates a conversation across campus and guides programming for the coming year. We also choose a book that elaborates on this theme. All first-year students read the book over the summer and discuss it in their classes in the fall. We're excited to announce that our incoming students will read Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas and our Common Theme is Citizenship.
My name is Jose Antonio Vargas. I was born in the Philippines. When I was twelve, my mother sent me to the United States to live with her parents. While applying for a driver’s permit, I found out my papers were fake. More than two decades later, I am still here illegally, with no clear path to American citizenship…. I am only one of an estimated 11 million human beings whose uncertain fate is under threat in a country I call my home.
This is not a book about the politics of immigration. This book—at its core—is not about immigration at all. This book is about homelessness, not in a traditional sense, but about the unsettled, unmoored psychological state in which undocumented immigrants like me find ourselves. This book is about lying and being forced to lie to get by; about passing as an American and as a contributing citizen; about families, keeping them together, and having to make new ones when you can’t. This book is about what it means to not have a home. (www.amazon.com)
At St. Edward’s, one of our goals is to confront critical issues in society and seek justice and peace, per the institutional mission. We look forward to confronting this year's critical issue with you next fall in class, at events related to the theme, and through service. For example, watch Jose Antonio Vargas discuss what it means to be a citizen to him.
Learn more about how the Common Theme is integrated into the first year experience.
All freshmen are required to attend the Common Theme speaker on the evening of October 10th. More information to come.
How to Read the Common Text
One of the most important things we hope to do as a university is create a love of learning in our students, and the first part of that happens with the Freshman Seminar common text, a book we ask you all to read over the summer. Our committee of faculty, staff, and students has chosen Dear America as this year’s common text.
As you read the common text this summer, don't read as if it is a textbook. There's no need to memorize any facts. Instead, think about the issues Dear America raises. Make notes in the margins, mark passages that stand out to you, and write down questions you have. That way you will be well prepared to write about the book in class this fall and to participate in discussions. You will also have opportunities outside of classes to think about the book and the common theme by attending screenings of documentaries, hearing lectures by experts, and going on field trips.
Email alexb [at] stedwards.edu with any questions about the common text or Freshman Seminar. And again, welcome to St. Edward's.
Associate Professor, University Studies
Director of Freshman Seminar
Fall 2019 Common Theme Events
Fall 2019 events
September 24 at 6pm in Carter Auditorum
In 2011, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas outed himself as an undocumented immigrant in an essay published in the New York Times Magazine. Documented chronicles his journey to America from the Philippines as a child; his journey through America as an immigration reform activist; and his journey inward as he re-connects with his mother, whom he hasn't seen in person in over 20 years.
October 10 at 7pm in the Recreation & Convocation Center:
Speaker & Author Jose Antonio Vargas
Book signing to follow
Past Common Themes
Book: Born a Crime
by Trevor Noah
Speaker: Eli Kimaro
2017- 2018: Immigrant Voices
Book: Detained & Deported: Stories of Immigrant Families Under Fire
by Margaret Regan
Speaker: Erika Andiola
2016-2017: Food Justice
Book: Where Am I Eating?
by Kelsey Timmerman
Speaker: Kelsey Timmerman
Trip: Costa Rica
Read about three freshmen who explored food justice in their communities.
Book: Just Mercy
by Bryan Stevenson
Speaker: Bryan Stevenson
Trip: 28 students and three faculty members travelled to South Africa to explore justice, mercy and how these issues relate to race.
2014-2015: Hearts and Minds: Changing the Conversation about Mental Health
Book: Brain on Fire
by Susannah Cahalan
Speaker: Susannah Cahalan
2013-2014: Expanding Human Rights
Book: Half the Sky
by Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Speaker: Jackson Katz
Trip: Learn how three students built on their Common Theme trip to Bangladesh by continuing to stand up for human rights.
2012-2013: How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse: Dystopias and Sustainability
Book: World War Z
by Max Brooks
Speaker: Max Brooks