Summer Reading Program

Miami welcomes new students to its engaged community of learners through the Summer Reading Program. In this important tradition, now 33 years old, we underline those activities we value most as a community: critical engagement with ideas; close interaction among faculty, staff, and students; and reading, listening, reflecting, talking, and learning as characteristics of active, responsible citizenship. As students' introduction to the types of dialogues they will engage in here with other learners, the summer reading program asks students to read a book during the summer and to return to campus in August prepared to discuss it with their fellow students and others in breakout sessions that immediately follow the Convocation ceremony

Become a Discussion Facilitator

Volunteer faculty and staff discussion facilitators play a critical role in making the post-Convocation ceremony discussions meaningful experiences for our new students. As a discussion facilitator, you will be provided a copy of the book and paired with a Residential Advisor to co-facilitate a discussion group of approximately 25 students. We are currently accepting facilitator sign-up forms.

After you sign up, please come to the Office of Liberal Education in 313 Laws Hall sometime after May 22 to pick up your complimentary copy of the book. You will be added to a Niihka site for discussion facilitators that will contain resources such as example discussion topics, an open forum and chat room for you to connect with other facilitators, and articles, links, and other information regarding the book, author, topic, and related activities on campus. Room assignments for the post-Convocation discussions will also be posted to the site closer to Convocation Day. 

You will be invited to attend a facilitator meeting the day before Convocation, where an expert or perhaps the Convocation speaker will discuss the book and answer questions. Also, other workshops will be organized during that week to help facilitators negotiate the difficult conversations that might arise in light of the book’s subject matter. 

Convocation 2014 will be held on Friday, August 22, at 9:00 AM on the Oxford Campus. Discussion groups will assemble immediately following the Convocation ceremony. Please head to your assigned room directly from Convocation.

Summer Reading 2014 book: Freedom Summer: The Savage Season of 1964 That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy.

bruce watson book

by Bruce Watson


What is the book about?

This year’s summer reading highlights the commitment, courage, and creativity of the more than 700 volunteers who gathered at Western College for Women, now the Western campus of Miami University, to train for Freedom Summer and eventually travel to a savagely racist Mississippi. Three participants -- Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman -- were brutally murdered in Mississippi just after leaving Oxford, sparking an intensive federal investigation and national outrage.  Watson’s book underscores the racist violence that saturated social and political life in Mississippi, the groups and individuals who challenged its practices, and the extensive amount of research, planning, and patience that attended their struggle for racial equality.

Why this book?

Featuring Miami’s Western Campus as one of its principal points of departure, Freedom Summer encourages readers to reflect on ways challenges that faced Freedom Summer’s volunteers might still persist, contemplate the roles members of Miami’s community have played and can still play as creative and critical citizens, identify the types of preparation they must undergo to serve such roles effectively and ethically, and consider the specific causes to which they might commit themselves today.  Furthermore, this book selection marks one of the many ways that Miami University will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer throughout 2014, including a culminating conference in October.