Past Themes

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

  • Building Community Resilience
    Established in 2006, the UAA/APU Books of the Year program offers university and community members a chance to use shared texts to engage 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. 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 as well as our future. These books will help us talk about these critical issues and the opportunities they offer for change. Join us in engaging discussions about these important texts and issues! Resources.
  • 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 Civilization 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.