History of the Project
Open Books - Open Minds is the Rhode Island College common book program. This initiative brings together first-year students early in their first semester at RIC, and links them with upper-level peers, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, and the greater Rhode Island community through book discussions and participation in a rich array of programs and activities. A series of lectures, round-table discussions, and film screenings culminate in the annual Open Books – Open Minds Student Conference in the spring, where students showcase their writing and research on the book itself or issues inspired by the reading.
The American Democracy Project at Rhode Island College commenced Open Books-Open Minds during the spring semester 2006. After considerable input and deliberation, committee members selected Lynda Barry's The Good Times Are Killing Me as our inaugural book. One reviewer has described Barry's work as "a provocative, cross-disciplinary tour de force" embracing tough social issues in a deft, yet deceptively simple manner. Barry's book is a story plainly told yet powerfully effective. We are hopeful that the story will spark community discussion of a wide-ranging nature. While the goal of the project is intellectual engagement, the common-book project reminds us that learning takes place outside of the classroom, in any venue where people value the power and the pleasure of an open exchange of ideas.
In support of these efforts, we invited members of the Rhode Island community to read the book and to participate in the rich array of Rhode Island College events and programs related to Barry's novel.
We hope that the Open Books-Open Minds project will become a valued tradition of our community. This program was initiated from Rhode Island College's active involvement in the American Democracy Project (ADP). The ADP is a long-term endeavor involving 188 academic institutions, jointly coordinated by the New York Times and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), and designed to foster informed civic engagement in the United States. Rhode Island College is proud to be one of the first colleges in the nation to participate in this important initiative. The goals for the ADP are entirely consistent with the goals of Rhode Island College as an institution committed to academic excellence, to the value of life lived in service to others, and to the personal and professional success of its graduates. The ADP and the Common Book Project allow us to work towards fostering a caring community informed by serious inquiry, civic engagement, and open discourse where dedicated faculty strive to pass on the promise of the liberal arts education: an open and understanding mind. Please join us and become a part of this important endeavor.