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The Campus Reading

Every new student has something in common – the Campus Reading – a text that all incoming students are expected to read. This assignment forms the basis for a community-wide dialogue that begins during orientation and continues throughout the year. In the fall, all new students will be invited to attend the annual Lawson Lecture which will further develop the themes expressed in the book.

The Campus Reading for 2022-2023 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. These essays will be shared with Transfer Student Leaders for use in discussion during Transfer Student Orientation. A letter from Assistant Provost Jill Stratton will also accompany the text. Essays are due by August 15.

With additional questions about the Campus Reading, please email

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