Join the Conversation

Join the Conversation

Resilience is the ability of a system – like a family, a country or Earth’s biosphere – to cope with short-term disruptions and adapt to long-term changes without losing its essential character. Today we face four major crises – environmental, energy, economic, and equity – that challenge the resilience of the systems we care about and the futures of our students. These books will help us talk about these critical issues and the opportunities they offer for change.

Check out the 2018-20 Books!

2018-20: building community resilience

Teaching economics? Food security? Homelessness? Energy? Equity? Health? The 2018-20 Books of the Year offer excellent opportunities to enhance student engagement on these topics and promote student success!

The UAA/APU Books of the Year program offers faculty a chance to use shared texts to engage students in conversations around critical themes. The question of how to build community resilience is a hot topic now in communities around the world, including Anchorage. 

Common intellectual experiences -- like Books of the Year programs – are a recognized, evidence-based High Impact Practice that supports student success. UAA and APU faculty have selected six books to use over the next two years as the basis for these discussions. The books offer multiple ways to approach this complex topic, ranging from an academic exploration of systems thinking and the synergies between economics, energy, equity and the environment (The Community Resilience Reader) to a call to action on the climate crisis (This Changes Everything) and the best climate solutions (Drawdown) to impassioned essays on community survival by a major Indigenous leader (The Winona LaDuke Chronicles) to creative works highlighting the resilience of individuals and communities impacted by poverty, racism, and extreme weather events (Threadbare and Salvage the Bones). Three books will be highlighted each year, with special events, guest speakers and more!

Join your colleagues in engaging discussions about these important texts and issues!


Past Themes and Books

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

  • Negotiating Identity in America
    2015-2017. Books: The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.  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.  Resources.
  • 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
Libby Roderick, Program Director
Phone:  907-786-4605
Mailing Address:
University of Alaska Anchorage
CAFE/Books of the Year
3211 Providence Drive, LIB 302
Anchorage, AK  99508


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