Conor Grennan’s “Little Princes,” an account of the author’s trip to an orphanage in a war-torn Nepal and his efforts to reunite the children with their parents, has been reaffirmed as the Virginia Tech’s Common Book for the 2014-15 academic year.

The Common Book committee first chose “Little Princes” for the 2013-14 academic year after collecting suggestions from the public online. Of the 180 recommendations, the faculty and students on the committee chose “Little Princes” because it transcended “academic disciplines, cultures, and religious backgrounds while challenging students and faculty to think globally and to look for ways to make a positive impact here or abroad,” said Mary Ann Lewis, assistant provost for first year experiences.

The committee decided to renew the book after seeing the ways classes have used the book this year. “The book sparked valuable conversations among our faculty and students,” said Lewis. “In addition, this provides faculty members opportunities to build on the ways they integrated the book into their curriculum this year.”

The Pathways to Success course offered through the DaVinci and Curie Living-Learning Communities, Successful Starts in Science, is one of many courses that integrated “Little Princes” into the curriculum this year.

“The Common Book provides an opportunity to integrate what students are learning in their classes into the broader picture of their life,” said Lori Blanc, director of Da Vinci and research scientist in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Successful Starts in Science expanded on the Common Book with a guest speaker, Jane Lillian Vance, an internationally acclaimed Blacksburg artist and instructor of religion and culture, and her collaborator Jenna Swann, a teacher in the Montgomery County, Va., school system. They told the class about their documentary, “A Gift for the Village,” which chronicles the presentation of one of Vance’s paintings to a remote village in Nepal.

“We hope to get students to see how the integration of other disciplines such as the arts and engineering can inform and combine with science to be creative when solving problems,” Blanc said. “Science doesn’t occur in a bubble. It occurs in the communities of human beings with problems that are greater than just a scientific component.”

Reuse of the Common Book for another year also opens up opportunities for a larger campus discussion as entering first-year students will read the same book many students and faculty read this year, said Lewis.

Faculty may enroll in workshops, sponsored by the Office of First Year Experiences and the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research, to explore and design ways to incorporate the Common Book into a course’s curriculum. Workshops will be offered through the spring semester. Registration information is available online.

Copies of “Little Princes” are distributed to first-year students each year in the residence halls. Faculty may request a copy of the Common Book via email.

“Little Princes” is the university’s eighth Common Book.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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