The National Association of Scholars (NAS) recognizes Florida College’s Common Reading program in “Beach Books 2016-2017: What Do Colleges Want Students to Read Outside Class?”, a comprehensive report on common readings at 348 colleges in 46 states across the nation.
The annual NAS report concludes that common reading selections at most institutions are predictable, published within the last two decades and focused on promoting progressive messages. Florida College is listed as an Honorable Mention alongside eight other colleges with reading requirements that rise above the typical standard.
In contrast to most institutions, Florida College’s Common Reading program for the 2016-2017 academic year required two readings: Pericles’ “Funeral Oration” and Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.” According to the NAS report, “Florida College deserves acclaim both for the quality of its common readings this year and for the continuing high quality of its selections.”
Florida College was also featured in an NAS article by David Randall, the association’s director of communications, asserting that the college is an example of best practice in common reading programs.
“Florida College shows that colleges can select Common Readings that introduce students to the best thoughts and words of the past, and that are as timely now as when they were written,” Randall said.
Based in New York, New York, the NAS works to foster intellectual freedom and to sustain the tradition of reasoned scholarship and civil debate in America’s colleges and universities. The association recommends colleges should select better books “to welcome incoming freshmen to the life of the mind.” Florida College’s Common Reading sections continually strive after this goal. Some previous selections have included “Flatland” by Edwin Abbott Abbott, “The Abolition of Man” by C. S. Lewis, the U.S. Constitution, and selections from the Federalist and the Anti-Federalist Papers.
“Colleges should introduce students to excellent books: books that pose hard questions; books that demonstrate the excitement of great thought; books that show the sheer power of great writing,” NAS president Peter Wood said. “Students are shortchanged when colleges give them merely good books instead of excellent books, just average, so-so books. Our recommendations are reminders of the better choices that are available to everyone.”
Led by Florida College’s academic dean, Dr. Brian Crispell, the Common Reading program will continue the college’s efforts to encourage students to read excellent books that promote intellectual thought for the 2017-2018 academic year. Incoming freshman will be required to read a summary essay explaining the classic works of Adam Smith, “The Wealth of Nations” and “The Theory of Moral Sentiments.”
“The essay, produced by Dr. Eamon Butler, the director of London’s Adam Smith Institute, is an excellent explanation and summation of the transformative work on liberty and freedom within the marketplace,” Crispell said.
As a liberal arts college, Florida College strives to prepare students for lives of service to God and man while emphasizing strong academics, moral character and spiritual growth. President Payne sees the Common Reading program as a tool to help accomplish that goal.
“It is heartening to know that there are some left in academia who appreciate what we are trying to accomplish at Florida College through our Common Reading program as it fits with our overall mission and purposes,” President Payne said.
This year’s Common Reading selection will prepare incoming freshman for the rigorous liberal arts education they will receive at Florida College.