UNC, Duke select book on vegetarianism for summer reading

In 2009, it was “A Home on the Field.” In 2010, it was “Picking Cotton.”

And for the summer of 2011, UNC has turned once again to a non-fictional account of a life-changing journey.

This summer, incoming students will be asked to read and discuss “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer, a book that goes beyond Foer’s decision to become vegetarian by exploring the relationship between man and food.

A 21-member committee selected the book after narrowing a list of 393 suggestions to 24 nominations and then to six finalists.

UNC has held the program for 13 years but decided to partner with Duke University for the first time this year.

April Mann, director of New Student and Carolina Parent Programs, said the mutual selection will allow the author to visit both campuses easily and ultimately serve students better than before.

Both campus selection committees received nominations, compiled a shortened list and came together to compare them, Mann said.

Donna Lisker, Duke’s associate dean of undergraduate education and chairwoman of the Duke summer reading program committee, said the committee consulted faculty and students at both universities.

“The schools do work together all the time on everything except athletics,” Lisker said.

Ryan Collins, president of the Residence Hall Association and a student on the committee, said the University was partial to non-fiction while Duke tended to choose literature.

“One of the most interesting things was how different UNC and Duke’s philosophies were on the summer reading program,” Collins said.

Todd Adams, associate dean of students at Duke, said the universities also ran their discussion groups differently. At UNC, a faculty or staff member leads the discussion, while discussions at Duke are facilitated by current students.

But Adams said “Eating Animals” was a choice that suited both campuses’ needs.

Jan Yopp, the UNC dean of summer school and chairwoman of UNC’s selection committee, said the book will spark discussion.

“I think any student reading this book will look at the research that the author did and realize that that’s what they should think about doing for all the big decisions in their lives,” Yopp said.

Collins said he thinks students will relate to the book’s subject matter because it focuses on food.

“It’s so different from any book we’ve chosen in recent years,” he said.

Mann said it is too soon to tell whether the schools will collaborate again, but she thought the first joint initiative was a success.

“We are excited about the selection of this particular title,” she said.

Contact the University Editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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