Join the Conversation

Join the Conversation

Everyone must "negotiate" and shape their identity as they mature, age, and adapt to fate and circumstance. Together, these books offer timeless and relevant themes of individual and collective identity in America--themes that continue to be important to our communities, state, and nation.

2015-17: Negotiating Identity in America
                                2015-17: Topics of Relevance to "Negotiating Identity in America"
Critical Service Learning as a Tool for Identity Exploration. Service learning is widely understood as a way for students to learn about others. But it also provides opportunities for students to learn about their own identities, which shape their service-learning experiences. By David M. Donahue and Tania D. Mitchell, Association of American Colleges and Universities

Has Diversity Lost Its Meaning? How does a word become so muddled that it loses much of its meaning? How does it go from communicating something idealistic to something cynical and suspect? If that word is "diversity," the answer is: through a combination of overuse, imprecision, inertia and self-serving intentions. By Anna Holmes, New York Times Magazine
Teaching Tip
from Start Talking: A Handbook for Engaging Difficult Dialogues in Higher Education Kay Landis, Editor

"Identity Groups": A simple exercise to get everyone thinking together about their cultural, class, ethnic, religious, gender, and other identities.
- Before Class: Prepare a list of potential identity groups. Include large, broad groups as well as small, distinctive groups.
- Call Out the Groups: Invite members to stand, and invite everyone to notice who is in the group and who is not.
- Think about the Groups. Have participants pair off and discuss what's great and what's hard about being in their particular groups, and what they want others never to do, say, or think about their group again.  
- Open Discussion: Bring the group make together, and invite people to share.

Past Themes and Books
Resources for each theme include reader's guides, faculty resources, and supplemental materials.

  • Information, Ideas, Ideology: Shaping Your Reality
    2013-15. Books: The Influencing Machine by Brooke Gladstone and Escape from Camp 14 from Blaine Harden.  We invite you to explore the power of ideas and ideology to shape our realities, and emphasize the importance of critically assessing the validity of information. Resources.
  • Money & Morality
    2011-13. Books: The Working Poor by David Shipler and The Big Short by Michael Lewis.  Together these books capture people in the economic extremes of our society – the rich and the poor. In America, where “everything has its price,” money and morality define our incomes, lifestyles, and personal responsibilities. These selections help us understand our assumptions, and the role money plays in the decisions each of us make. Resources.
  • Service in a Foreign Land
    2010/11. Books: This is Not Civiliation by Robert Rosenberg and Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. Resources.
  • Responding to Climate Change in Alaska
    2009/10. Books: Shopping for Porcupine by Seth Kantner and The Whale and the Supercomupter by Charles Wohlforth. Based in Alaska, written by Alaskans, these two books provide a good introduction to rural Alaskan ways of life. Together they reveal many of the changes that have occurred there over the past half century and demonstrate what’s at stake for rural communities facing the effects of climate change. The books also contrast the ways Alaska Native people and scientists acquire and use knowledge. They call upon both Native wisdom and Western science to address the problems associated with climate change, and they illustrate how profoundly climate and cultural change can affect both people and entire ecosystems. Resources.
  • Alaska's Native People: A Call to Understanding
    2008/09. Books: Growing Up Native in Alaska edited by A.J. McClanahan, Yuryaraq: The Way of the Human Being by Harold Napolean, and Do Alaska Native People Get Free Medical Care? edited by Libby Roderick. Together, these books address critical issues, correct historical inaccuracies, and authentically represent Alaskan Native cultures, communities, and peoples. Resources.
  • Religion & Politics
    2007/08. Books: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra. Resources.
  • Immigration & Otherness
    2006/07. Books. Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. Resources.


As an avid reader and a Professor Emeritus in English from UAA, I find many organizations and programs that want me involved. I choose to get involved with UAA/APU Books of the Year because I think it’s one of the best programs around, and every dollar I donate to it goes right to the program (instead of overhead or salaries). Every year two or three thought-provoking books are selected and then all UAA/APU students are encouraged to read and discuss them. It’s one of the most worthwhile programs I know.
—Dr. Becky Patterson Bunde
Contact Us
John Dede, Program Director
Physical Address
1901 Bragaw Street, 340
Anchorage, AK 99508

Mailing Address
University of Alaska Anchorage
IEEAS/Books of the Year
3211 Providence Drive, BOC3 340
Anchorage, AK  99508