“Radioactive” by Lauren Redniss announced as A&M-Commerce Book in Common for 2019

A&M-Commerce President Mark Rudin announced that “Radioactive” by Lauren Redniss has been selected as the 2019 Book in Common. The announcement came as part of the Spring Assembly held January 10.

The Book in Common initiative, funded by the president’s office, is an ongoing study for A&M-Commerce freshmen meant to bring students together to learn in an environment that fosters discussion and reflection as they navigate their first year of college.

“Through the Book in Common program, freshman students across all majors, as well as faculty, are unified with the study of one book that’s chosen to provoke deeper thought and engaging discussions,” Rudin said. “In this setting, they are allowed to be both the students and the teachers as they collectively learn from one another.”

Dr. Yvonne Villanueva-Russell, dean of the University College, oversees the program, which she says has the broadest reach of all the elements of the First Year TRAC initiative.

“The program extends beyond our freshmen students to draw the entire campus and surrounding community into a dialogue of broad issues,” she said. “Professors in upper division courses incorporate the text into their lessons, staff members gather to discuss as a book club and the local community is invited to the author address so that everyone is included in the conversation of enduring and unanswerable questions generated from the book.”

The book details the story of two scientists, Marie and Pierre Curie, who expanded the periodic table and played pivotal roles in the discovery of radioactive materials, facing challenge and hardship along the way. Rudin plans to teach a signature course centered on the novel next year.

“I am working with the University College to see if I could teach a class titled ‘Chemical and Biological Effect of Radiation’ during the Fall 2019 semester,” he said. “The course would explore the physics behind radioactive decay; types of radiations; examine the effects of radiation on human cells, tissues and the whole body; and, look at the risk associated with radiation exposure.”

Faculty and staff are encouraged to actively participate in the study alongside students, providing a unique learning opportunity outside of the normal student-teacher classroom experience.

“The Book in Common is chosen because of its cross-disciplinary ability to make us think, discuss and understand the world in new ways,” Villanueva-Russell said. “Faculty, staff and the larger community can take part in discussions of self-discovery, justice and social change that have been thematic elements of prior book selections.”