The first annual UConn Reads program concluded on Thursday, with New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, co-author of the nonfiction best-seller Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, giving a lecture at the Student Union Theatre.
UConn Reads, launched in 2011 by President Susan Herbst, invites all alumni, faculty, staff, students, and community members to participate in a common intellectual discussion by reading a book selected by a University-wide committee and taking part in events and online discussions with faculty, staff, community members, and students throughout the year.
“This project is not only a celebration of who we are as an institution, it is also a provocation, meant to develop the constructive ‘culture of argument’ so sorely missing in America today,” said Herbst in announcing the program last year. “We in higher education must lead the nation to a more intelligent, productive, and interesting public conversation – from economics and politics to ethics and social life.”
Half the Sky was named last year as the inaugural book selection for the program, culminating in a variety of book discussions campus-wide and a lecture by the author of the chosen book.
“Reading enables us to come in contact with and, for a while, to inhabit the lives of others,” Herbst said Thursday. “And in the process, we gain a more complete understanding of ourselves as a people, greater empathy for people across the globe and more expansive insight into our world.”
Kristof, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, has served as an op-ed columnist with The New York Times since 2001. He is an advocate for human rights and social justice. Half the Sky is a nonfiction account centering on the oppression of women and girls in the developing world.
He and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn – who is also a co-author of Half the Sky – have written several other books, including China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power (Vintage, 1995) and Thunder from the East, Portrait of a Rising Asia (Vintage, 2001).