First-year students starting at Trent University this fall will benefit from an early preview of the academic experience before classes officially begin, thanks to the Trent Reads program, offered as part of Introductory Seminar Week (ISW) activities.
"Trent reads is an important event because it gives students a first taste of the style and expectations of a university seminar,” says Dr. Michael Eamon, principal of Lady Eaton College, and one of the faculty members who will be delivering a Trent Reads seminar. “It is hoped, as every new student is asked to read the book, that they will all share a common, intellectual bond, regardless of who they are, or where they are from. Trent Reads demonstrates that learning is most effective when it takes place in a community of like-minded and supportive peers and teachers. It also underscores the importance of the interdisciplinary, student-teacher interaction that is at the heart of Trent."
Trent Reads, an initiative launched by the University in 2008, is designed to bring the Trent community together by creating a common ground for discussion. Each spring, one book is selected by Trent students, faculty and staff for all new students to read before coming to Trent. During ISW, Trent’s newest students attend seminars with faculty across departments to discuss the book and gain their first university classroom experience. The book chosen for 2013 is Vincent Lam’s Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures.
"Dr. Vincent Lam's book is a great choice for this year,” Professor Eamon says. “The practice of medicine brings together a knowledge of both the arts and the sciences. Lam's Giller prize-winning book successfully explores humanity through metaphors of medical and scientific-based endeavour. A student at Trent University also embarks on a very human journey that underscores the importance of interdisciplinary thought and action."
Originally started by the associate dean of Undergraduates at Trent, Trent Reads is now run through the Office of Student Affairs and the undergraduate Colleges, which are interdisciplinary communities of living and learning within the University.
“With the move to the Colleges, Trent Reads is growing and we are hoping for more participation than ever this year,” says Sako Khederlarian, orientation coordinator at Trent, who is overseeing the program in the Office of Student Affairs. “With the selection of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures as this year’s book, we hope arts students as well as science students will be interested in discussing the themes present in the book.”
Speaking of the seminars and the Trent Reads program, Prof. Eamon says: "Every seminar leader will approach the book in a different way. I will look at some of the main themes of the book and see which ones resonate the strongest with the students. For those who may not have prepared for the seminar, I will also use the opportunity to underscore the importance of preparation and offer tips on how to deal with the increased workload of university. There are many ISW activities that help students adjust socially to their new environment. I see Trent Reads as an important means to help them make the academic transition in a safe and supportive way."
In addition to groups at the University, the Peterborough community is also a supporter of Trent Reads. This year, the Peterborough Public Library made a donation to help bring Dr. Lam to Trent later in September. During his visit, Dr. Lam will read an excerpt from his book and Prof. Eamon will lead a panel discussion with Trent students. The public event will be held Friday, September 13 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Great Hall of Champlain College.
Trent University was one of the first universities in Canada to introduce a common reading program. Over the years, many other universities have started similar programs, based on the success of Trent Reads. Books previously selected for Trent Reads include: Joseph Boyden’s award-winning novel Three Day Road (2008); Lawrence Hill’s acclaimed The Book of Negroes (2009); Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers (2010); Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach (2011); and Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants (2012).