Is this higher education or indoctrination?

Jacqueline Thomsen reports at Inside Higher Ed.

A Little Heavy Reading

Social justice. Climate change. Racial inequality. Immigration. Hunger. While those topics might read like a laundry list of some of the world’s biggest problems, they are just a few of the issues covered in books that are required reading for freshmen at colleges across the country.

Freshman reading programs are popular among institutions, used as a community-building project that helps freshmen to unite academically with a common discussion on one book. The selections are generally skewed toward nonfiction (although fiction is sometimes selected), and choices for this year are no different.

Out of 121 institutions surveyed by Inside Higher Ed, the top pick was Bryan Stevenson’s memoir, Just Mercy: A Story of Redemption and Justice, with 10 institutions electing to use the book as its common reading. Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and a law professor at New York University, writes about his experiences trying to help — and sometimes failing — to overturn death and prison sentences for criminals Stevenson believes to be wrongly convicted. The majority of those criminals are black men.

The book will be read by incoming students at California State University at Chico; Colorado and Butte Colleges; Michigan State, Northern Arizona, Northern Illinois and Washington State Universities; and the Universities of Delaware, North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wisconsin at Madison.