Who Are We?

The UAA/APU Books of the Year program is a powerful partnership between the University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University that brings faculty, staff, and community members together to understand common themes. The books serve as the catalyst for discussions of larger issues of local and international significance.

What Makes Us Unique?

The Books of the Year program started in 2006 as part of a Ford Foundation Difficult Dialogues initiative --one of only 26 in the country--to provide a safe environment on campuses for discussions of challenging topics. UAA and APU are now national leaders in this area.

Because of our Difficult Dialogues beginnings, we're different than other university common reading programs. Our goal is to select books that provoke serious discussion about serious issues, rather than providing "introduction to college" exercises or a freshman class bonding experience. 

How Are the Theme and Books Selected?

The UAA/APU Faculty Steering Committee participates in a year-long process to select a general theme and two books that support that theme.

Criteria for Theme:

  • Relevant to our campuses and community
  • Encourages in-depth discussion of challenging multi-faceted topics

Criteria for Books:

  • Both books must have a balanced approach that foster discussion, not a one-sided view or polemic about a topic
  • Content and format lends itself to meaningful, innovative teaching in-line with Difficult Dialogues theory and practice
  • Topics have inter-disciplinary appeal
  • Available in paperback
  • Less than 400 pages
  • One of the books is written by a living author who may visit to engage with students, faculty, and the community

Our associated programming encourages readers to explore the theme, not just the books, and provides creative venues and forums for people to express their interpretations in different ways.

In response to faculty feedback, the program now keeps the same theme and books for two years. This allows more time for thoughtful curriculum development and programming related to the theme and book selections.

poster highlighting themes and books