Common Experience cultivates conversation on global connections
By Callie Gordon ’12
In 2004, President Denise M. Trauth implemented a unique program to foster a campus-wide intellectual discussion. Eight years later, the Common Experience has become a unifying affair for Texas State students, staff, faculty and friends. This yearlong series of events, conferences, speakers and screenings is an opportunity for students to become more active in their educational experience.
“Early on, the vision was to connect entering students to a shared conversation,” Trauth writes on the Common Experience website, “but it quickly grew to include upper-level classes, student support services, campus activities, performing arts and the San Marcos schools and community.”
This year, the Common Experience addresses an increasingly relevant issue: globalization. The 2012-2012 Common Experience theme — A Global Odyssey: Exploring Our Connections to the Changing World — was created to foster the community’s examination of the many international relationships that affect our daily lives.
The objectives of this theme are for students to become more aware of the complex geographic, political and economic connectedness of today’s world; more equipped with essential 21st-century skills; more empowered to work toward improving the quality of life at the local and global levels; and more socially responsible members of the global community.
As the world gets smaller through increased interconnectedness and technology increases the availability of knowledge, students need to develop a global perspective for their professional as well as their personal development.
Each year, the Common Experience selects one text, read by all freshman students as part of their University Seminar classes, as a touch point for the theme. The 2012-13 selection, Where Am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that Make Our Clothes by Kelsey Timmerman, chronicles the author’s odyssey to discover where his clothes came from and who made them. He intimately describes the connection between impoverished garment workers’ standards of living and the all-American material lifestyle. Timmerman will expand upon the book’s idea when he speaks at Strahan Coliseum September 27.
The Common Experience also invites other luminaries to contribute to the conversation. Ethan Zuckerman — TED talker, researcher and Internet activist — will speak October 29 at Evans Auditorium. As a senior researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard and director of the MIT Center for Civic Media, he will share his observations on the way the Internet has affected globalization.
“From the clothes we wear to the cars we drive, to the places we dream of visiting, to the subjects we study, the world outside of Texas State University is a part of our lives. The Common Experience theme, A Global Odyssey, will make this relationship more vivid,” says Diann McCabe, co-chair of the Common Experience and a professor in the Honors College. “Our students, faculty, staff and community will be enriched by considering how we relate to the rest of the world and the effect the world has on our lives. We will also be strengthened in the awareness that others around the world struggle and celebrate and worry and take delight in many of the same things we do. Finding out about how others live will lead to an appreciation of the amazing world around us.”
The Common Experience encourages students and faculty to share their global experiences as well as encourage new ones. A limited number of competitive mini-grants are available to Texas State community members who want to organize a Common Experience event; click here for details. Given the dynamic nature of the theme, events will be added throughout the year. Be sure to check the Common Experience calendar for schedule updates.
Don’t miss these major Common Experience events:
Thursday, September 27
Kelsey Timmerman, author of Where Am I Wearing?
7 p.m. · Strahan Coliseum
Monday, October 29
Ethan Zuckerman, director of the MIT Center for Civic Media
7 p.m. · Evans Auditorium