Dear Tulane Community,
Each year, The Tulane Reading Project brings our incoming first-year students together for a shared intellectual experience through the reading and discussion of a selected book. This year’s selection, Beartown by Fredrick Backman, is the gripping story of a town grappling with sexual violence, a salient issue for the Tulane community.
As you may know, Tulane is currently engaged in a “Wave of Change” – a university-wide effort to eradicate sexual violence from our campus. As we contend with the challenge of shifting our culture, Beartown is a fitting medium to consider how our actions come to define our environment. As Backman reminds us, “What is a community? It is the sum total of our choices.” For our first-year students embarking on their college careers, this project is a launch-pad to a lifetime of thinking critically about difficult issues like sexual violence.
The Reading Project committee – a diverse mix of faculty, students, and staff – selected this novel for its sensitive discussion at the intersection of tragedy, morality, and courage. It is a timely conversation that reflects Tulane’s continued commitment to foster a healthy and inclusive campus community. The committee hopes that Beartown will spark university-wide dialogue around empathy, character, and introspection.
The Class of 2022 will discuss the book with faculty members and their classmates during New Student Orientation in August, and students will continue to engage at the Reading Project keynote lecture and other programming throughout the semester. Beartown will be available for purchase in the Tulane bookstore during admitted student events in the spring and summer.
I hope the lessons of Beartown will echo long after the formal discussion groups have ended – in class discussions and assignments, conversations at coffee shops and residence halls, and all the moments in between that make Tulane the vibrant, intellectual, and extraordinary community that it is.
Michael A. Fitts
President, Tulane University