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BGSU Common Experience 2015-16: Behind the Beautiful Forevers: The 2015-16 Common Experience

A collection of resources about the 2015-16 Common Experience book selection "Behind the Beautiful Forevers"

Letter from the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs


September 8, 2015


To: BGSU Faculty and Staff

From: John M. Fischer, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

Re: The 2015-16 Common Experience/Theme/Read

As many of you know, Bowling Green State University has a tradition of common reads and themes. This year, a series of experiences have been suggested in order to create discussion opportunities around the goals identified by the Common Experience committee.

I am writing to encourage you to find ways that your class, organization, learning community, or wing of a residence hall might view the films during fall 2015, attend the theatrical experiences, or read the common read during the 2016 spring semester. I believe you will find them to be a worthwhile experience.

Thanks again for everything you are all doing to make the BG experience such an engaging, collaborative process.

Be sure to share stories and plans you develop around the various aspects. We look forward to hearing about the opportunities you create for all of our students.

Below is a bit more detail to support your planning process.

Theme: Identity

BGSU has had a consistent effort to identify a common book each year and tie that into a theme. During the 2014-15 academic year the theme was focused on Identity.

The 2015-16 theme will continue this thread, but broaden it to a number of areas related to performance and visual arts. By having common experiences over the course of the academic year, we believe first year students and others will:

  1. Raise awareness and tolerance of intergenerational and cultural likenesses and differences,
  2. Promote academic discourse and critical thinking,
  3. Provide an introduction and broaden understanding about the expectations of higher education,
  4. Create a sense of community among students, faculty, and staff,
  5. Integrate an academic and social experience into the campus community,
  6. Be able to identify key aspects of our own definition of identity,
  7. Identify the manner in which life events play a role, but not unchangeable direction, in the choices we make related to our own sense of self,
  8. Identify the ways that history and culture play out in our definitions of who we are and where we come from,
  9. Recognize that our actions and a focus on self-development play key roles in determining the outcomes of the choices we make for ourselves,
  10. Define how the concepts of persistence, resilience, and grit play out in our lives and reactions to events,
  11. Reflect on the values present in our choices, culture, and identity,
  12. Find ways to build a sense of community around the varied identities present around us.

Common Experiences

Included in these activities will be a movie, theatrical performances, and a book. They are designed to look at the issues and objectives in a number of historical eras and cultural contexts.

  • Film (September-October, fall 2015)

Ida (2014) - last year’s winner of the best foreign language film at the Oscars. We have secured the streaming rights and the film is now available for the next three months at the following link:

A BGSU username and password are needed to access the film, which will be available until the end of November. Also, a set of discussion questions and other resources will be sent out in the next few days.

  • Theatrical Experience

A Perfect Wedding, Charles L. Mee
Romance/Comedy (Play)
Donnell Theatre Performance Dates: 8 p.m. 11/19, 8 p.m. 11/20,
2 p.m. 11/21, 8 p.m. 11/21, 2 p.m. 11/22

Learning communities, student organizations, BGSU 1910’s and other groups are encouraged to buy blocks of tickets and participate in this theatrical experience that puts a bit of a twist on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Resources related to this experience will also be made available.

  • New Research Symposium

Inaugural Undergraduate Symposium on Diversity - Opportunities and Challenges for the Inclusion of Diversity in Higher Education and Society. January 13, 2016, in the Ballroom of BTSU. Expect to receive a call and more information from the Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship.

  • Common Read, spring semester 2016

Behind the Beautiful Forevers (2012) by Katherine Boo, is a wonderful, well-researched story by a journalist focused on life experiences amidst economic development and struggles in the strengthening economy of India.

Expect more resources, discussion questions, and information about the author visit to come out over the next few months. We expect Katherine Boo here on campus mid-winter. An event marking the start of our Common Reading experience will occur during International Week in November.

Other events and experiences that might help with discussions and work towards our goals include:

  • The theatrical experience This Filthy World, with John Waters. A one-person show, autobiographical (Live Performance). Edwin Simmons Grant Recipient - Presented by BGSU, Kobacker Hall. Performance date: November 5 at 8 p.m.
  • The film Hacked, by BGSU faculty member, Daniel Williams. A 20-minute short feature focused on cyber identity and security issues. Narrative Drama (Film). Produced by BGSU Department of Theatre and Film. Gish Film Theater - Date TBD. Also could be made available to groups on campus for showings.
  • The film Once You're Born You Can No Longer Hide, (Italian- Quando sei nato non puoi piú nasconderti) a 2005 Italian drama film directed by Marco Tullio Giordana. The film concerns undocumented migration to Italy via the Mediterranean. We are working to get streaming rights for this film.

Thanks again for helping make these experiences campus wide. I look forward to hearing about how students engage in each of the opportunities.