Common Reading

First Year College

University Common Reading 2014


Colleges and universities are discovering that students get more out of their college experience if they truly connect with their campus.  Summer readings can help jump-start those connections.  The University’s common reading this year is Tomorrow’s Table by Pamela C. Ronald and Raoul W. Adamchak.  Read the book and talk about it with your family and friends, then complete the assignment.  You’ll be discussing it with your fellow FYC students and your advisor this year.


  • Dr. Pamela Ronald and Mr. Raoul Adamchak, the authors, will be the guest speakers at NC State’s Wolfpack Welcome Week Convocation Festival.  All FYC students are required to attend his talk and then reflect on it in writing.  The talk and reflection are part of your USC 101 course requirements.  Your advisor will attend, too.  The Convocation Festival is Monday, August 18, with activities beginning at 2:00 pm, at the nearby PNC Center.  Transportation will be provided by the University, and full details will be available in August.  Directions for your reflection are below; your USC 101 instructor will let you know when it is due.  
  • Dr. Ronald and Mr. Adamchak will also attend a breakfast and informal discussion at the FYC Commons on the morning of August 18.  Ask your FYC advisor if you would like to attend the breakfast and meet and talk to Mr. Adamchak and Dr. Ronald.


  • This packet includes some questions to help you organize your thoughts about the book and to prepare you for the “Circle of Life” assignment.  The assignment is due the first day of your particular USC 101 class section.



Purpose of the Common Reading assignment


 Every class you take and every assignment you complete will have “learning outcomes”:  that is, the instructor has goals for you to reach and skills for you to practice and learn.  The “learning outcomes” that helped the advisors in First Year College design this assignment and prepare for discussions and activities in USC 101 are listed below.


After completing this assignment, students will be able to:


  1. Identify their values and why they are important to them.
  2. Describe the experiences that have shaped their perspective
  3. Compare and contrast their life experiences and values to those endured and exhibited by the characters
  4. Infer how the life experiences to be gained in college will shape their values



Definition of Values 



We have provided you with several definitions for “values.”  These definitions were collected from First Year College advisors as well as adapted from reference sources.  As you read these definitions, think about your own definition of these terms. 



  • Values are those things, ideas, and people that are important to us.  They are the central concepts that give meaning to our lives, a set of guiding principles that help us make decisions and choose a path.


  • Values shape our behavior and define who we are.  The stronger they are, the less willing we are to change or compromise them.


  • Values are tangible or intangible and are of great significance in our lives.


  • A value is a principle, standard or quality considered worthwhile or desirable.  Values are beliefs that people have which serve as the basis for their decision-making. Values commit a person to action.


  • Values are a cohesive system of beliefs that are freely chosen by the individual, prized, publicly affirmed, and acted upon.


  • A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable. 



The Assignment (2 parts)– due the first day of your USC 101 class


1. Circle of Life


Create a circle or other shape that represents your values.  You may choose to use size, shape, color, placement, etc. to represent the importance of each value.  You can use any medium to create your circle – i.e., computer graphics, markers, crayons, pens, glue, magazine clippings, photographs, etc.  Three-dimensional objects are fine.  Be as creative as you would like.  (In past years, students have made a collage; some made poster-sized circles.  One student made a “tower of values”; another created a clock.)




2. Writing Assignment


Please address the following questions in an essay.  Details on format are after the questions.

A.  Tomorrow’s Table addresses the world crisis in “feeding the growing population” and doing so “in an ecologically balanced manner” (Tomorrow’s Table, p. xi). The authors, Dr. Pamela Ronald, a geneticist, and Raoul Adamchak, an organic farmer, believe that both genetic engineering and organic farming are central to solving this problem.  The authors present scientific, historical, and political information to help make their case.  Equally as important to their arguments, however, are the values they hold.  What are the values behind their work?  Are they the same for Dr. Ronald as for Mr. Adamchak?  How are their values challenged?  Be sure to give specific examples to back up your statements.

B.  Now explain your Circle of Life depiction. Describe each of your personal values, why you chose to represent it the way you did, and why each of your values is important to you.  

Think about the presentation you heard at new student orientation, where you were challenged to think about who you will be and how you will act in this new community.  How do your values guide your actions and decisions?  In what ways might your values be put to the test while you are at NC State? How should you act in such situations?

C.  Considering the values from your Circle of Life, compare and contrast one of your values with one that you discussed for Pamela Ronald and/or Raoul Adamchak.  Please choose just one of your values, and just one of Ronald’s and/or Adamchak’s -- this will help you to focus your discussion.  They do not need to be the same value.  

D. Write a conclusion that expresses the main point or key idea you have learned from doing this assignment. 



Be sure to ask your USC 101 instructor how many points each part of the assignment will be worth and write the point values in the chart on the next page.  Note:  Attending the Wolfpack Welcome Week Convocation and writing a reflection on it is a separate requirement for your USC class with 10 additional points.


This assignment asks you to think and talk about your own ideas.  Don’t be afraid to say “I” in your essay!  It is intended for others to view and read, so look at it with the reader’s eye.  Ask yourself:  if I were someone who didn’t know me or the way I think, would this make sense to me?  Would it be interesting?  You might show your work to your friends or family and get their input and feedback.


Required Elements – Presentation of writing assignment

  • Type and double space all written parts of the assignment.  10, 11, or 12 point font are standard for college papers, as are 1-inch margins all around.  Use black ink and standard formats (e.g. no script or cartoon fonts).
  • Proofread for spelling, punctuation, grammar, and word choice (e.g., no texting language).  
  • Put your name and the page number at the top of every page.
  • Staple the pages together at the top left-hand corner.
  • You do NOT need to turn in a copy of the assignment – just your own work.


A rubric shows you what is expected for an assignment and how your work will be graded.  Any time an instructor gives you a rubric, follow it carefully.  You can use a rubric as a checklist to ensure that you have met all of the requirements of the assignment.  It gives you a chance to revise your work before you turn it in.



Requirements – writing assignment

Possible Points

Part A

  • States the values for Pamela Ronald  
  • States the values for Raoul Adamchak  
  • Explains how their values are challenged
  • Describes how their values were similar or different
  • Specific examples from the book to support and illustrate claims.



Part B

  • Each value in the Circle of Life is described with details on how and why it is depicted as it is
  • Explains how your own values guide your actions and decisions. Reflects on ways your values might be challenged at NCSU
  • Describes how you should act in such situations
  • Uses details and specific examples to illustrate and support your statements


Part C

  • Compares and contrasts one of your values with one that you discussed for Pamela Ronald and/or Raoul Adamchak.  
  • Use details and specific examples to illustrate and support your statements


Part D

  • Expresses the main point or key idea you have learned from this assignment



  • Assignment is turned in on time
  • Essay follows the formatting requirements
  • Essay is  proofread for spelling, punctuation, grammar, and word choice


(Your USC 101 instructor may give points here, or deduct points for not following directions.  Check with your instructor.)



Requirements – Circle of Life


  • Personal values are represented visually
  • The relative importance of the values is conveyed in a visual way



Total Points possible