2013 Common Book

2013 Common Book: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Published: October 10, 2013

Incoming first year students bring a diverse set of experiences and perspectives to the UW Bothell campus. Diversity is part of the tapestry on which the exceptional student experience is based. Faculty in the First Year and Pre-Major Program look forward to the contributions that students in the B CUSP 134 class will bring to every discussion, especially the discussions around this year’s Common Book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”.

While one of the most obvious benefits of the Common Book is that participants feel a sense of belonging, Kristine Kellejian, who leads the 2013-2014 Common Book project, says there are other benefits that are closely connected to UW Bothell’s interdisciplinary university environment, “We think critically, not in the traditional ways of separating knowledge into categories, but seeing the connection between categories.” Kellejian added, “It’s the hallmark of what we do here.” The intention is to have students abuzz about the book, but also have all of the entire UW Bothell community abuzz and engaged in conversation.

Kellejian, Director of Composition for the First Year and Pre-Major program, says the issues presented in this book are important to this campus. Throughout the academic year, faculty involved in the Common Book initiative will cover property, privacy, research, science, race, class, gender, and social justice.

B CUSP 134 writing faculty are key to the development and implementation of the Common Book project. First Year and Pre-Major program director Leslie Ashbaugh says students will find a robust curriculum designed around “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” “The Common Book is a collaborative teaching and learning opportunity,” says Ashbaugh. “Every student who enrolls in B CUSP 134 will read the text and participate in a student- led conference where they will either present a paper, poster or art piece,” says Ashbaugh. The autumn quarter student conference is scheduled for Friday, November 22 from 10 a.m. to noon in the North Creek Events Center.

Discovery is the key for the first year program. Engagement is the key word for the pre-major or second year. Kellejian says “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” reflects both discovery and engagement. “The author spent ten years tracking down facts and engaging with them. We also encourage curiosity and inquiry here – following that trail to the end. That’s what the author of this book did and it’s a good model for our students and for us to think about.”

When asked how she will define success at the end of the year, Kellejian says it will be measured by engagement. “We will have provided opportunities for people to have discussions about relevant issues related to important concepts such as health, privacy and access,” says Kellejian, “and that we and our students in the 134 class will have seen, heard and engaged in conversations on these topics in a variety of ways.”

Learn more about “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

Book Cover: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Kristine Kellejian