Since 1993, the University of Maryland’s Office of Undergraduate Studies has given a free “First Year Book” to all incoming freshmen.
“We want a book that stimulates discussion,” says Assistant Dean Lisa Kiely, who oversees the program.
This year, freshmen will receive The Ravaging Tide by author/filmmaker Mike Tidwell. Perhaps best known for predicting the Hurricane Katrina disaster in his 2003 book, Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana’s Cajun Coast, Tidwell’s latest work takes a critical look at global warming and the impact humans have on our planet.
“The Ravaging Tide [not only] provides an opportunity to debate the science but help students understand their role in stopping climate change,” Kiely says.
As in the past, the First Year Book is not a required read. Instead, it’s up to faculty members to decide if the book fits into their curriculum. It’s often used in freshmen-level introductory courses.
“It’s also used as a unifying tool for the campus community,” Kiely says. “How will we discuss it as a community? How does it affect us? This year, those questions are very important, and the campus has already made climate change an important issue.”
So, what lessons does Kiely hope students will gain from the book?
“I’ve asked the author that,” she says. “His hope is that students understand this is a problem of their generation—that we, as their parents’ generation, have not solved it. He hopes they feel empowered to do something about it. I would add that before they act, they must understand this issue the best they can.”
How about adding The Ravaging Tide to your organic bookshelf?