The American Democracy Project (ADP) is an initiative organized by the Association of American State Colleges and Universities that seeks to create an intellectual and experiential understanding of civic engagement in the United States in the 21st century.

As part of the ADP, SUNY Brockport is promoting a Freshman Summer Reading Program to orient new students to the Brockport academic community by having a common reading experience. This summer’s reading selection is Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich. Students will receive a copy of the book with support materials and information about the program in early July.

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America is Ehrenreich’s account of her year spent working as a waitress, cleaning woman, nursing home assistant and Wal-Mart employee. Her portraits of the working poor should encourage healthy dialogue on our campus by bringing up the sensitive issues of the economy, the income gap and our large low paying service industries.

Staff members are encouraged to consider the following suggestions to help promote awareness of the Summer Reading Program and to explore the important issues raised by Ehrenreich’s book.

  • Read the book! If you need a copy, the Barnes and Noble Bookstore offers the paper back for $10.40 (reflects a 20% discount).
  • Read the Freshman Summer Reading Program discussion/study guide (to increase your engagement with and understanding of the key issues).
  • Ask students if they have read the book. If they have not, encourage them to do so.
  • Encourage students to take part in campus discussions, projects and lectures that debate noteworthy themes generated by the book.
  • Welcome student discussion on the issues raised by Ehrenreich and encourage a variety of viewpoints, realizing that this book reflects a single point of view.
  • Be sensitive to students’ backgrounds and beliefs as you encourage them to explore the issues raised in the book.
  • Organize or encourage co-curricular opportunities to investigate key issues.


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