One Book for many classes at Valley

The One Book, One College program is an interdisciplinary effort to create a shared intellectual experience for students and  faculty by using a single book  in a variety of Valley College classrooms.

by Vera Levi, Special to The Star

According to the Library of Congress, the “One Book” concept was initiated by the Washington Center for the Book in 1998. The program has since been established, under various names, in hundreds of communities and colleges nationwide.

While the goals of each program vary, the methodology is the same: recruit people with different backgrounds and experiences to contemplate and discuss a particular book during a specific period of time. It could be considered a community wide (or campus wide) book discussion club.

The goals of the program at Valley are to establish opportunities for creativity, scholarship, critical thinking and academic dialogue.

The program was approved in the middle of the spring 2016 semester, with  Professor Michelle Lewis as the program coordinator. Two books were considered for the position of finalist,  Southland and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks; the latter was selected.

Written by Rebecca Skloot, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells a riveting story of ethics, race, and medicine,” states the author’s official website,, which goes on to say:

“It’s research, reportage, the ethical issues it has raised, and its unique relevance to a wide range of disciplines from the arts and sciences to law, medicine, anthropology, African American Studies, and more, the book has been used in thousands of classrooms and teaching programs around the country.”

The book is about a woman named Henrietta Lacks, a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells were taken without her knowledge in 1951. They had been kept alive and used for all sorts of research, such as in vitro fertilization and gene mapping. Twenty years after launching a medical revolution and a multi-million-dollar industry, Lacks’ children discovered the truth and sought answers about a mother they never knew.

Lewis, program coordinator, played a role in the decision to select the book.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot, made it to the very top,”  Lewis said.

Many professors are using the book, so students can expect to see it in the following classes:

Anthropology, environmental science, biology, health, kinesiology, history, political science, sociology, English, ESL, broadcasting and art.

There will be a One Book, One College event coming to Monarch Hall Nov.29. All students are encouraged to attend. “A poster session, videos, PowerPoint presentations and live performances are expected to be part of the event,” Lewis said. “All student work is welcome.”

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