Presented by The Frederick Douglass Institute (FDI)
An Introduction to an Exciting Opportunity for Student Research and Engagement: In Your Course; Across the Curriculum; Beyond the Curriculum.
Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Spring 2017 through Spring 2018
FDI's mission of exploring intersections of race, society, justice, and education intersects with CAPC's purpose in supporting the University Strategic Plan and the General Education goals. Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks focuses on issues of diversity, equity and integrity in ways that prepare students for analytic thinking applicable to lifelong learning and the practice of citizenship. Ethics, science, and society are all key matters.
The book is a reflective first-person research work in which Skloot traces the fate of the cancer cells taken and multiply reproduced, without authorization or compensation, from Henrietta Lacks in the 1950s, with the result that the African American woman's cells are now the basis for much of the most important cancer research in the world. The book also engages with the family of Lacks-past and present-and links African American history and the legacy of racial injustice to the case of the cells. This interesting and important book communicates a narrative connecting issues of quantitative and qualitative research, ethics, history, social justice, and race in revealing ways. It's also an engaging read, with a combination of personal voice and serious analysis, with something to offer students of many majors. An inexpensive paperback edition (2011) is by Broadway Press, ISBN 978-1-4000-5218-9 (e-book: eISBN 978-0-307-58938-5).
A One Book Project can become a common intellectual experience for WCU if that book unites the campus across colleges and disciplines, generating discussion of issues important to WCU values as articulated in the Strategic Planand the General Education Outcomes. A well-chosen book can have a place in the WCU curriculum, but also in the larger community we serve, becoming a textbook coursework but also for multidisplinary discussions, as an impetus for events and special speakers, and as a link to issues that matter to the communities we serve.
The FDI One Book WCU Project will begin with a formal ceremony inaugurating the project near the start of Spring Semester 2017, and will extend through the 2017-2018 academic year. The Frederick Douglass Institute will establish a broad-based committee of WCU faculty, WCU students, and community representatives to advise the project, and to serve as a model for future FDI One Book WCU choices.
The new General Education curriculum reform currently in process aims to serve the following specific CAPC-approved goals:
These goals exactly match the themes in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. FDI's One Book WCU choice, therefore, is highly appropriate as a common reading for students in the new First Year Experience course, introducing to students the integrated, multidisciplinary qualities of a distinctive WCU education. The book also supports the recommended "Pathway Certificate" themes: Creative & Artistic Inquiry; Science and Health; Sustainability and Society; Human Difference in Local & Global Contexts; and Science, Technology, and Society.