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The Campus Reading

Every incoming first-year class has something in common before arriving on campus: the Campus Reading – a text that all students will receive prior to move-in and are expected to read. This assignment forms the basis for a community-wide dialogue that begins during orientation and continues throughout the year and takes place in houses, Vanderbilt Visions groups, and across campus. In the fall, all new students will be invited to attend the 16th annual Lawson Lecture which will further develop the themes expressed in the book.

The Campus Reading for the Class of 2026 is Creative People Must Be Stopped: 6 Ways We Kill Innovation (Without Even Trying) by David A. Owens. The book was chosen by Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs C. Cybele Raver.

Published in 2011, the book offers a framework for overcoming barriers to innovation and helps readers think about the ways we might be preventing ourselves—and others—from thinking outside the box. Written by Owens, Vanderbilt professor of the practice of management and innovation and Evans Family Executive Director of the Wond’ry, Vanderbilt’s Innovation Center, the reading also will help create connections for new students as they think about how design and innovation can be personally transformative.

In the official announcement, Provost Raver said, “Creative, out-of-the-box thinking is central to the Vanderbilt experience as we empower students to expand their understanding, tackle complex problems, and take risks.”

All incoming students are asked to complete a reflective essay on the Campus Reading prior to the start of classes. In addition to being available online, essay prompts and instructions for submission will be included with the book in the summer mailing. Essays will be shared with VUceptors for use in discussion during orientation. A letter from Dean Melissa Gresalfi will also accompany the text. Students may begin submitting essays on August 1, and they are due by August 15.

With questions about the Campus Reading, email campus.reading@vanderbilt.eduThe Campus Reading for the Class of 2027 will be announced in spring 2023.

Past Campus Readings

  • 2021 – When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  • 2020 – The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias by Dolly Chugh
  • 2019 – The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity by Kwame Anthony Appiah
  • 2018 – The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt
  • 2017 – Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South by Andrew Maraniss
  • 2016 – Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South by Andrew Maraniss
  • 2015 – The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse
  • 2014 – Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
  • 2013 – College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be by Andrew Delbanco
  • 2012 – Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn
  • 2011 – The Good Life by Peter Gomes
  • 2010 – Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin