WSU Common Reading book explores global refugee issues

Provost hopes book can help students analyze, understand immigration



Executive Vice President and Provost Dan Bernardo selected the newest WSU Common Reading book titled "Refuge: Rethinking Refugee Policy in a Changing World."

JAYCE CARRAL, Evergreen reporter

The WSU Common Reading Program selected, “Refuge: Rethinking Refugee Policy in a Changing World” by Paul Collier and Alexander Betts, to be the first book for the program’s two-year theme of global stability, scarcity and security.

Karen Weathermon, WSU first-year programs director, said the university selects a theme related to the research of different disciplines at the school to focus on for two-year increments.

Weathermon said the book focuses on the immigration and migration of refugee populations across the world.

“The book itself is sort of in a problem-solving mode about that,” she said. “Many countries around the world have been impacted for years by people fleeing conflict zones – places where their homeland is no longer a safe place for them to live.”

She said the books chosen by the WSU Common Reading Program are used to highlight the connections across different areas of study as it relates to the theme.

“The problems we encounter in the world have dimensions that go in all sorts of different directions,” Weathermon said. “Those different areas of study can serve us in understanding and hopefully come up with innovative solutions for complicated issues.”

Dan Bernardo, provost and WSU executive vice president, said choosing a Common Reading book is a full semester process. He said faculty members, students and staff can make book nominations. A Common Reading committee review book nominations and select three finalists.

“We’re not necessarily choosing the ‘best written’ book. We are choosing the book that we feel will be used in a variety of classes,” Bernardo said. “[We are looking for] the book that would have the most impact on our students.”

Bernardo said he was charged with selecting a book from the three finalists. He said he chose a book which could be used in several courses as well as one students could think critically about.

“What are the implications?” he said. “What are the policy options that account how the world accommodates so many displaced people?”

Weathermon said she expects several UCORE and introductory courses to use the book as well as courses focusing on political science, social science, environmental science and history.

“Some faculty will likely use it as a required course text and others will probably use segments of it on their Blackboard sites,” she said. “That is really an individual faculty decision.”

Weathermon said she hopes the book will help students gain a better understanding of the issues propelling people to leave their countries as well as the different policies and programs countries implement to address the needs of refugees.

Bernardo said the book gives students the framework necessary to understand and analyze any refugee issue around the globe.

“It doesn’t solve the refugee problem, but if one doesn’t understand the basic issues the reasons for refugees across the globe and what the various policy options are them,” he said, “then they’re really just going to be swayed by whatever sort of political rhetoric [is] in the popular media.”