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Open Books - Open Minds logo

Open Books - Open Minds has been reimagining the role of the common book at Rhode Island College.

A Whole-School Approach

From its inception in 2006 at RIC, Open Books – Open Minds (OBOM) has engaged students in dialogue with the college and Rhode Island communities. We now envision a broader scope for the program, which continues to encourage the participation of freshmen in OBOM as we expand our year-long series of events inspired by the common book to involve students from all academic levels and diverse disciplines.​

This Year’s Common Book

The Open Books – Open Minds Committee is pleased to announce the common book for the 2024–2025 academic year.

OBOM 2024-25 Common Book: "Light From Uncommon Stars" book cover

Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

View a synopsis of this year's book and the location where all related materials and events to facilitate whole-school learning and dialogue will be placed.

More Details on the OBOM Program

Become a Student Mentor! 

  • Lead a discussion in a course in which students are reading this year's book. I would pair you with a host instructor for this according to your schedule.
  • Help advertise Open Books - Open Minds programs.
  • Do a presentation at the spring student conference -- either an academic paper, a research presentation, or a creative project of some kind.
Benefits of Being a Mentor
  • one college course credit (you will be enrolled in COLL 202)
  • great one-on-one experience with a talented Instructor
  • active involvement in campus events as well as with other students, faculty, and staff
  • great resume item for presenting at a conference

If you are interested in becoming a mentor contact Dr. Janice Okoomian.

Become a Faculty Host!

Who is a Faculty Host?

Any RIC Instructor who shall be teaching the common book in class and would like to have an upper-level student help with those discussions.

Faculty Host Requirements
  • teach the common book
  • meet with the discussion leader to discuss his/her role in your class
  • apprentice the discussion leader by modeling effective teaching strategies
Benefits of Being a Faculty Host
  • a chance to mentor bright undergraduates and also engage them as intellectual peers
  • opportunity to provide your students with an example of active student participation at work
  • a chance to draw from the OBOM events (including the student conference) as components of your course.

Common Book Program

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.

The Open Books-Open Minds Committee Welcomes Your Suggestions for Future Books!

Guidelines for Selection of the OBOM Common Book
  • The book must be selected for reasons of distinction (for example, excellent treatment of a particular theme, and the quality of the writing), but must also be accessible to entering freshmen, in terms of language, length, and availability (including price).
  • The book must be one that is likely to interest many freshmen, possibly because of its theme (coming of age, for example), timeliness (in relation to local events or controversial issues, for example), or outside publicity related to it.
  • It is desirable that the book be one that can easily be incorporated into at least one of the courses most students take freshman year.
  • The topic of the book should offer interesting programming opportunities, including the potential for an author visit which should be considered early in the selection process.
  • The book should not be one that many of our students read in high school.​

Please email book suggestions to Include the title, author, and any other pertinent details.

Connect with Us

Rhode Island College entrance

Contact OBOM or a Specific Co-Chair

Janice Okoomian

Dr. Janice L. Okoomian

Assistant Professor