The UCLA Common Book program began in 2008 as a way to engage students in conversations around global citizenship and cultural competency. Started as a “think tank” program by Dr. David Gere and Bridget Collier, the first Common Book was test piloted with a small community of students in Hedrick Summit. Through yearlong programs and seminar-based discussions, students were able to translate themes from the first Common Book, Mountain Beyond Mountains by Dr. Tracy Kidder, into positive high-impact actions that improved the UCLA community.
The students’ passions and engagements demonstrated the power of literature as a common, unifying experience for people from all walks of life. Since 2008, the Common Book program has expanded its reach all first year Bruins. Through intellectual and community-building activities inspired by the Common Book, the program continues to provide a platform for students to share a diversity of perspectives, build a community of learners, explore their roles in creating a just society, and identify critical action steps to address the common experience.