Acclaimed author Daniel Goleman’s latest work, Ecological Intelligence, has been selected for Virginia Tech’s Common Book Project for the 2009-10 academic year.

Now in its tenth year, the Common Book Project gives nearly all new and transfer undergraduate students a common academic experience during their first year at Virginia Tech. Faculty teaching first year students are encouraged to integrate the common book into their curriculum in order to foster broader community discussions on important themes or issues.

Generally considered an activity within the academic program of the university, this year’s Common Book Project has received tremendous support from colleagues in the Division of Student Affairs, noted Daniel A. Wubah, vice president and dean for undergraduate education.

“Not only did they play an instrumental role in the selection of the book, but more importantly, in getting the book in the hands of orientation leaders, delivering a strong endorsement of the book when it is distributed during summer orientation, and the educational support that can be supplied through the network of residence hall advisors,” said Wubah.

“The theme of ecological awareness and environmental sustainability emerged as we considered a variety of books,” said Ron Daniel, associate provost for undergraduate education. “The selection committee felt that such a theme would offer many options for engagement and use of the book across all colleges and disciplines. It could connect with new university efforts in the area of heightened environmental awareness and action and provide opportunities to facilitate community service options for students and faculty.”

A former science reporter for The New York Times and twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, Goleman is the author of Emotional Intelligence, Working with Emotional Intelligence, Social Intelligence, and the coauthor of the business bestseller Primal Leadership. In Ecological Intelligence, Goleman tells of the critical role of the psychological dimension in our decision making, and illustrates the inconsistencies in our response to the ecological crisis.

In his book, he explains why we as shoppers have found it impossible to know the true range of harmful environmental and health consequences of our purchases. He writes on how both individuals and companies fail to consider the true impact our actions have on the environment and our own health. He suggests that the problem is exacerbated by a lack of information about the detrimental effects of producing, shipping, packaging, distributing, and discarding the goods we buy.

He goes on to describe how consumers can make smarter purchasing decisions. An alignment of consumers’ values with their purchasing power will foster, Goleman contends, a new era of competitive advantages necessary to save the planet.

“And we hope this year’s theme of environmental awareness can inspire conversations beyond the university,” added Daniel. “We are working with the Town of Blacksburg to facilitate a community reading program such as successful ones in cities such as Chicago and Seattle.”

Daniel added that plans are underway to bring Goleman to campus this fall for a university lecture and other educational programs.

Members of the Common Book Selection Committee included:

  • Patricia Amateis, associate professor and director of general chemistry, College of Science
  • Kim Brown, director, University Academic Advising Center
  • Hilary Bryon, assistant professor of architecture, College of Architecture and Urban Studies
  • Candice Clemenz, associate dean for undergraduate programs, Pamplin College of Business
  • Ron Daniel, associate provost for undergraduate education
  • Rick Fell, professor of entomology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Rick Ferraro, assistant vice president of student affairs
  • Caitlin Grady, undergraduate student
  • Kathryn Graham, instructor, Department of English, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
  • Megan Hedrick, undergraduate student
  • Sarah Karpanty, assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife science, College of Natural Resources
  • Carolyn Meier, instructional support librarian, University Libraries
  • Heather Moorefield-Lang, education and applied social sciences librarian, University Libraries
  • Annie Pearce, assistant professor of building construction, College of Architecture and Urban Studies
  • Leslie Pendleton, director of undergraduate student affairs, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering
  • Jamie Penven, associate director of residence life
  • Marlene Preston, assistant professor of communication, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
  • Karen Sanders, associate vice president for academic support services
  • Rick Sparks, assistant dean of student and new student orientation director
  • Karen Watson, director of academic support, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences

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