The Common Experience at UCLA

Each year, The Common Experience selects a title for the Bruin community to read, listen or watch together centered around a common theme. Our mission is to ignite campus-wide discussions on compelling social issues and inspire action within the Bruin community. 

Goals of The Common Experience program include:

  • To share and understand diverse perspectives in a respectful way

  • To build a community of intellectually engaged learners

  • To explore the role we play in creating a just society

  • To consider critical action steps that can be taken in response to your common experience at UCLA

During Winter and Spring quarters, students, faculty, staff, and alumni are able to participate in discussions about the selected work and related issues based on the theme. 

This Year's Selected Work

In acknowledgement of UCLA's Centennial celebration, the 2019-2020 theme for The Common Experience is Los Angeles: Past, Present and Future!

There Goes the Neighborhood: Los Angeles, a podcast about gentrification and living in Los Angeles, has been selected as the UCLA Common Experience title for the 2019-2020 academic year. Produced by KCRW and WNYC Studios, "There Goes the Neighborhood" includes the following themes: economics, food and culture, the housing crisis, policy and law, race relations and more! Listeners can expect to hear interviews from local L.A. natives and those currently navigating the effects of gentrification within Los Angeles. 

Those interested can access the podcast through the KCRW app, at or anywhere podcast are available!

To learn more about "There Goes the Neighborhood" click here! To access resources about "There Goes the Neighborhood", including discussion guides, supportive text and upcoming events click here

More About The Common Experience at UCLA

Established in 2008 by Dr. David Gere and Bridget Collier, The Common Experience at UCLA (formerly known as The Common Book Program), was created for first-year undergraduate students to connect with one another through group discussion and year-long programming based on a common book.   

What started as a “think tank” program within a small community of students in Hedrick Summit, then became a way for students to engage in conversations around global citizenship and cultural competency. Through year-long programs and seminar-based discussions, students were able to translate themes from the first Common Book, Mountains beyond Mountains by Dr. Tracy Kidder, into positive high-impact actions that improved the UCLA community.

While the mission has remained the same, The Common Experience at UCLA has expanded beyond just first-year students and now connects the entire UCLA community through innovate programming, collaborative partnerships, and inspirational dialogue centered on a common theme.

A Retrospective of the Common Experience Program

  • The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantu (2018-2019)

  • Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder (2009-2010)

  • Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (2010-2011)

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2011-2012)

  • The Other by Wes Moore (2012-2013)

  • Pedro & Me by Judd Winick (2013-2014)

  • I Never Had It Made by Jackie Robinson (2014-2015)

  • Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (2015-2016)

  • Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2016-2017)

  • The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui (2017-2018)

  • The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantu (2018-2019)