Greetings.  Each year, for the past eighteen years, the University of Maryland in College Park has chosen a book for all first year students, faculty, and staff to read together.  The objective of the First Year Book Program has been "to provide a shared intellectual experience for all new students along with the opportunity to discuss the book from a variety of disciplines."  This has enabled the University to spark thoughtful discussion among students from different backgrounds and with different academic interests.  And typically the books are either controversial or intended to challenge each student's understanding of their role and responsibility in the broader world.  In addition, "courses, departmental lectures, living/learning programs and student groups all sponsor events that complement a major address by the author and/or other important visitors to campus."

Books have included:

  • Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
  • The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman
  • Dead Man Walking by Helen Prejean
  • The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman
  • War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges
  • What is the What by Dave Eggers 

And this year's selection–Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

It's a powerful idea and a richly unifying experience for this large university.  But it's also a great way to unlock the real genius and innovation in your company or organization.  By reading together and discussing the same book with colleagues who have different backgrounds, different training, and different roles to play in the life of your enterprise.  By creating events tied to the book that further stretch your thinking in new directions.  And by challenging each other to think about a shared set of ideas that could have profound possibilities for your future success.  

Possibilities inspired by being together on the same page.

And, in the process, by creating a culture of learning together.  In fact, several of our customers have used Surrounded by Geniuses as their first "First Year Book." And we've even developed a fun discussion guide to support your thinking about strategy, innovation, customer success, and shared learning.  But it's only one of dozens of books that might be a perfect place to start.    

Half the Sky

We win in business, education, and life when we come to see learning as something we share.  And when we create a dialogue that challenges all of us to understand more deeply our abilities to make a compelling difference.  What learning will you share with your organization in the year ahead?

Cheers!