Common Read 2021

About the Common Read

The purpose of the Common Read program is to build community among students, faculty, staff, and the community, helping us get to know one another and connect to the University’s mission and core values.  

All first-year students read the book as part of their courses, and all members of the USJ community are invited to read along. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members are invited to attend events that help us dig deeper into the topics and themes of the chosen book.

Get your bookmark ready!

You are invited to join the USJ community for the 2021 Common Read, What the Eyes Don’t See:  A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City by Mona Hanna-Attisha.

According to the publisher Penguin Random House, “What the Eyes Don’t See is a riveting account of a shameful disaster that became a tale of hope, the story of a city on the ropes that came together to fight for justice, self-determination, and the right to build a better world for their—and all of our—children.”

First-year students will receive a copy of the book this summer, either at orientation events or via mail.

Faculty, staff, and alumni can purchase a copy of the book here.


Upcoming Events for the USJ Community

More events will be added in the coming weeks as we finalize the details. Follow this page for more information. Most Common Read events will be open to all members of the USJ community. Both in-person and remote events will be available.

What’s In Our Water?  Microplastics Survey

Saturday, September 25, 10:35-11:35 a.m. | McDonough 101 Lab
Microplastics have been a growing concern in recent years as they are increasingly found in far-reaching aquatic environments. These small plastic particles can represent the degradation of larger items such as Styrofoam, plastic bags, bottles, wrappers, synthetic textiles, synthetic rubber, etc. Join Dr. Kirsten Martin’s Hydrology class for this hands-on workshop, where attendees will learn about the new CT River Conservancy microplastic survey program and will have the opportunity to analyze local water samples for microplastics.
Register Here

Water Quality and Stream Health at Holcomb Farm

Saturday, September 25, 12:30-3:30 p.m. | Meet at Holcomb Farm, 113 Simsbury Rd., West Granby, CT
Join students from Dr. Kirsten Martin’s Hydrology class and help conduct a benthic macroinvertebrate survey of Salmon Brook in West Granby, CT. Benthic macroinvertebrates are a useful bioindicator of water quality and overall stream health. Some species are highly vulnerable to changes in water temperature and quality, while others are extremely tolerant of “less than perfect” water conditions. We will be using a data sheet produced by the CT DEEP to find and categorize different types of organisms in the water, and learn how these organisms can tell us about the quality of the water system. Please note: participants will need to provide their own transportation for this event.
Register Here

Harnessing creativity as a community engaged approach in Flint

Tuesday, September 28, 12-1 p.m. | Virtual – login details will be sent the day before the event
The water crisis in Flint requires multiple approaches to mediate the impacts on child development. Collaborating with the Michigan Council for Arts and Culture Affairs and the Flint Institute of Arts, Dr. Roger Ideishi (Director, Occupational Therapy Programs, The George Washington University) will share his perspective and involvement in harnessing the creative process as a community-engaged approach to capture children’s interest and attention for learning.
Register Here

New Crisis in the Water:  PFAS Contamination and CT’s Response

Wednesday, September 29, 12-1 p.m. | Bruyette AV Classroom
This presentation will provide an overview of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of man-made chemicals commonly known as “PFAS” and widely dubbed the “forever chemicals”.  This presentation will discuss the characteristics of PFAS, the use of PFAS in consumer products, the presence of PFAS in our environment, and the steps being taken by Connecticut state agencies to minimize impacts of PFAS on human health and the environment through the implementation of Connecticut’s Action Plan prepared by Governor Lamont’s Interagency PFAS Task Force.
Register Here

Truth-Speaking in an Age of Tribalism

Tuesday, October 12, 5-6:30 p.m. / Virtual – login details will be sent the day before the event
The water crises in Washington DC, Flint, Denmark (SC), and Newark are unique case studies in the recent history of engineering and scientific misconduct, as they illustrate environmental crimes perpetrated by government agencies, which led to criminal indictments and lawsuits. Aspiring to uphold the duty of scientists and engineers to hold paramount the public welfare, Dr. Marc Edwards (University Distinguished Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech) worked alongside collaborators in the public, press, and in Congress for more than 17 years to uncover some of the wrongdoing. In Flint, after a unique collaboration exposed the problems and a federal emergency was declared, some unscrupulous reporters, academics, actors, activists, and pseudo-scientists attempted to exploit the tragedy to promote their own agendas. Edwards will explain how these experiences shed light on the importance of truth-speaking in an age of tribalism—and the urgent need to cultivate the scientist within all of us.
Register Here

What’s In Our Water?  Campus Lead Testing Survey

Saturday, October 16, 11:20 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. | McDonough 101 Lab
Monday, October 25, 2-3:15 p.m. | McDonough 102 Lab
Interested in learning more about the science behind the issues discussed in the book? In this hands-on session, led by Dr. Kirsten Martin (Biology), we will conduct a lead testing survey of three main areas of campus:  the O’Connell Center, McDonough Hall, and McGovern Hall. We will collect water samples from these areas on campus, then analyze the samples for lead. Two dates are available!  
Register Here

The Art and Science of the Connecticut River

Wednesday, October 20, 12-1 p.m. | Crystal Room, Mercy Hall
Using iconic paintings and images of the Connecticut River, Dr. Andrew Fisk (Executive Director, Connecticut River Conservancy) will present a lively and accessible interpretation of how an artist’s view of our rivers allows us to dive into the science of river function and health. Looking closely at paintings and prints allows the viewer a new glimpse at how the river was formed, how it moves across the landscape, and how it supports the many different species of wildlife. And while we have made tremendous progress in cleaning up our rivers, there is still much to do. And our artists can help show us what more is possible on behalf of a river that is clean, healthy, and full of life.
Register Here

Global Impact: An examination of the effect of water on the environment and health

Wednesday, October 27, 2-3 p.m. | McDonough 112
A discussion motivated by the book What the Eyes Don’t See by Mona Hanna-Attisha. This session will take a closer look at the effect that clean drinking water has on global health and the environment and examine ways we can make a change. This session is led by Nicole L. Kuhn, RN, BSN. Nicole is a first-year student Doctor of Nursing Practice student at the University of Saint Joseph with a focus on Psychiatric/Mental Health. She has a passion for travel and hopes to share her experiences in Africa to spark motivation for community involvement and volunteerism. 
Register Here


For more information about the Common Read, contact Kaitlin Walsh.

The Fall 2021 Common Read Program is supported in part by the Dan Adams Lecture Fund, the National Endowment for the Humanities Fund, and the Margaret Walsh Caulfield Fund at the University of Saint Joseph.