Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 71.02
Liaison Nathan King
Submission Date Oct. 15, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.2

Virginia Tech
ER-T2-8: Themed Semester or Year

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.25 / 0.25 Dennis Cochrane
Director, Office of Sustainability
Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure and Facilities
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Has the institution chosen a sustainability-related theme for its themed semester, year, or first-year experience during the past three years?:

A brief description of the themed semester, year, or first-year experience:

The Common Book Project at Virginia Tech was established in 1998 as a means of enriching the first-year experience and creating a sense of community for undergraduate students. Since the first full-scale distribution in 2000, all incoming first year students have been given a book to engage them through the lens of shared reading and to provoke conversation among students and their professors.

The 2013-14 and 2014-15 Common Book was Little Princes by Conor Grennan. The book follows Conor on an incredible journey to reunite "the Lost Children" in Nepal with their families, after being separated by war. Conor never intended to stay in Nepal--volunteering at a orphanage there was supposed to be just the first leg of his trip around the world. At first, Nepal shows him that his lifestyle in the US is one of gross over-consumption. He sees people living--happily--on much less than he has ever had. And these themes continue throughout the book.

However, the book mostly focuses on social justice issues, and how a lack of resources can lead families to make terribly hard decisions about their families. Small villages in the Himalayas have been suffering from drought for years, and feeding their families seems impossible at times. So impossible that many families sell their children to people claiming to be able to provide food and school to the kids, but who often use them as a cover for more insidious work. Conor's work in Nepal seeks to undo these injustices, and bring the luckiest of the children back to their families. But fostering a healthy society, a healthier environment is more possible in these and other areas.

The sustainability-related book that was chosen, if applicable:
Little Princes by Conor Grennan

The website URL where information about the theme is available:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.