Walking to Listen: Exploring Solidarity

The Common Read is a central part of First Year Seminar. It gives all new first-year students a common intellectual experience centered around a theme of Catholic Social Teaching (CST). All first-year students are required to complete the Common Read book, and engage in writing and discussion during the First Year Seminar class. Related events are held throughout the academic year, from panel discussions and community exploration to presentations from invited speakers.

The CST theme that will be explored during the 2018-2019 academic year is Solidarity, and focuses on locing our neighbor in an interdependent world. The Common Read selection is Walking to Listen, by Andrew Forsthoefel of Northampton, MA.

Walking to Listen tells of Forsthoefel’s journey across America at 23, through the stories of the people of all ages, races, and backgrounds he meets along the way. After he graduated from college, wondering what to do with his life, he left his home in Pennsylvania and walked across the country looking for guidance. Over the next year, he faced an Appalachian winter and a Mojave summer, and he encountered a diverse population of strangers who shared their stories with him. Ultimately, these stories carry him on his journey and build hope and heart into the book.

The themes of Walking to Listen — finding unity in diversity, staying connected despite fear, listening carefully to the world around you — are especially relevant to first-year college students, who themselves are setting out on an adventure, asking big questions, and learning to listen.

All first-year students are required to complete the Common Read book, and engage in writing and discussion during the First Year Seminar class; beyond First Year Seminar, the selection also is used in upper-level courses to enrich discussion and encourage inquiry. Throughout the academic year, the college will hold related events, from panel discussions and community exploration to presentations from invited speakers.

Books may be purchased in the Elms College bookstore.