Summer Book Club

Each summer, we invite all faculty to read a single book about teaching and join us for a dinner and interactive discussion of the book. The dinner and discussion take place each August.


CTE Summer Book Club 2023

CTE's Summer Book Club selection for 2023-2024: "The New College Classroom" by Cathy N. Davidson & Christina Katopodis.

The New College Classroom helps instructors in all disciplines create an environment that is truly conducive to learning. Davidson and Katopodis translate cutting-edge research in learning science and pedagogy into ready-to-use strategies to incorporate into any course. These empirically driven, classroom-tested techniques of active learning — from the participatory syllabus and ungrading to grab-and-go activities for every day of the term — have achieved impressive results at community colleges and research universities, on campus, online, and in hybrid settings. Learn more about the book and read the authors' bios »

How Does It Work?

In April, we put out a call for summer book club participants and deliver a copy of the book to each participant by graduation. Copies of the book club selection and seats at the fall dinner are limited, so plan on signing up early. Once you receive the book, kick back, sip your coolest summer drink and read it.

Over the summer, you'll receive details about the location and time of the Book Club dinner.

We have followed-up on our Book Club dinner with related events and activities such as a Provost’s Lecture by one or more of the authors, a Teaching Cafe or workshop on a related topic, and have received proposals for a Faculty Learning Community.


Selected Summer Reading Since 2011

You'll find descriptions of each book below as well as links to each book record at the Gleeson Library. You can also check out any of the book club selections since 2012 from the CTE lending library.

Author: Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer

Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer is an Indigenous scientist and writer working on wide-ranging topics in plant ecology, botany, and environmental/ecological restoration, integrating the wisdom of Indigenous Knowledge and western scientific methods. She is a distinguished teaching professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York, and serves as the founding director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.

Her book Braiding Sweetgrass is a distillation of her work on these topics and is widely celebrated for its wisdom and extraordinary writing. The lessons Dr. Kimmerer shares in this book address sustainability, research, and teaching that invite and integrate science and cultural competency, and renewal/restoration of communities, ecological systems, and relationships.

These themes resonate with many of USF’s values and with our shared journey as teachers of an extraordinarily diverse student body, especially at this juncture of history. In her words, “When we’re looking at things we cherish falling apart, when inequities and injustices are so apparent, people are looking for another way that we can be living. We need interdependence rather than independence, and Indigenous knowledge has a message of valuing connection, especially to the humble.

Author: Beverly Daniel Tatum

The summer of 2021 marks CTE hosting USF’s 10th annual Faculty Summer Book Club. The book club gives faculty the opportunity to read a common book over the summer and convene in the fall for interactive discussions that will serve as the inspiration for CTE programs and events throughout the academic year.

This year's summer book club selection is Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum (20th Anniversary Edition, 2017).

Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. This title offers in-depth discussions of racial identity formation and concludes by calling for more cross-racial dialogue.

Author: Parker J. Palmer 

The summer of 2019, CTE hosted USF’s ninth annual Faculty Summer Book Club. The Summer Book Club gives faculty the opportunity to read a common book over the summer and convene in August for a dinner and interactive discussion that will serve as the inspiration for CTE programs and events throughout the academic year.

The 2019 Summer Book Club selection was The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life (20th Anniversary Edition) by Parker J. Palmer.

"If you are a teacher who never has bad days, or who has them but does not care, this book is not for you. This book is for teachers who have good days and bad — and whose bad days bring the suffering that comes only from something one loves. It is for teachers who refuse to harden their hearts because they love learners, learning, and the teaching life." — Parker J. Palmer

Focusing on renewing the inner lives of professionals in education, The Courage to Teach builds on the simple premise that good teaching cannot be reduced to technique, but is rooted in the identity and integrity of the teacher. And through Palmer’s reflections on matters of fear, heart, community, and hope, The Courage to Teach makes the case that while good teaching comes in various forms, good teachers share one important trait: they are authentically present in the classroom, and deeply connected with their students and their subject.

We hope you'll find this book inspiring and engaging; we know it will inspire lively conversations in August and beyond.

Author: Cathy Davidson

For the 8th annual Faculty Summer Book Club, USF faculty read The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux, by Cathy Davidson. Davidson is Distinguished Professor of English and Founding Director of the Futures Initiative at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

In this wide-ranging and accessible book, Davidson examines the technological, economic, and cultural changes that present great challenges for higher education today, and that also provide us with new opportunities.

Davidson evokes the words of R. Buckminster Fuller — “we are called to be architects of the future, not its victims” — to remind us that a better university is not only possible, but it is within our reach. “All of this is doable,” she urges, and gives us dozens of examples of successful, innovative teaching strategies, programs, and technologies.

Check out The New Education at Gleeson Library.

Authors: Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber

Written in accessible prose, Berg and Seeber’s intentionally short book is meant to provide an “intervention” against the harmful culture of the corporatized academy, so that professors can “take back the intellectual life of the university." The authors offer up this work as “part self help”, to reduce our stress, and “part manifesto”, to call us to action. In just over 100 pages, they include chapters on how all parts of professorial work—teaching, research, and collegiality— have been hurt by the culture of speed, and can be helped by resisting it. (Reviewed by Jackie Brady in Radical Teacher No. 107, Winter 2017

The authors offer a manifesto to resist “the beleaguered, managed, frantic, stressed, and demoralized professor who is the product of the corporatization of higher education” (page ix).

Check out The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy at Gleeson Library.

Author: Andrew Delbanco

The transformation of American colleges is something we are reminded of every day. Delbanco places these changes in a greater historical context, providing an insightful and witty examination of trends in higher education. What has really changed? The book investigates the mysteries of learning in the context of the commercialization of education and the pressures of assessment. It also pushes readers to examine the role of faculty in this landscape of higher education. What is our role? What can it be? What should it be?

Check out the first version of College: What It Was, Is and Should Be at Gleeson Library.

Author: Ken Bain

Ken Bain, who founded the Center for Faculty Advancement at NYU, studied dozens of college teachers who’ve had “remarkable success in helping their students achieve exceptional learning results.” By reviewing their course materials and interviewing them and their students, Bain discovered not only what these “best teachers” did but how they thought about teaching. Chapters cover what they know about learning and what they expect of their students; how they conceptualize and plan a course; conduct a class; treat their students; and evaluate students and themselves. Engaging and insightful, this little book is the one to read if you’ve only got time for one.

Check out What the Best College Teachers Do at Gleeson Library.

Author: José Bowen

José Bowen's book, Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning, is provocative and packed with innovative ideas for developing "massively better classrooms." Teaching Naked provides resources to faculty in support of students such as reflecting, discussing, interacting and engaging. Most importantly Teaching Naked gives us tech-savvy strategies so students come to class ready to dive into the good stuff.

Author: Claude Steele

Claude Steele’s book, Whistling Vivaldi and Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us, takes us on a voyage through his life’s work studying social psychology and identity. He focuses on “stereotype threat”—anxiety that our actions will confirm stereotypes about “people like us.” The book offers compelling anecdotes and empirical studies, revealing how even well-meaning teachers can invoke race, sex and the like in ways that do more harm than good. Identity is fraught. Steele guides us past some of its perils, suggesting what we should—and should not—do to achieve meaningful equality in an educational environment. (Reviewed by Joshua P. Davis, Professor, Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship, School of Law)

Check out Whistling Vivaldi at Gleeson Library.

Authors: Susan A. Ambrose, Michael W. Bridges, Michele Dipietro, Marsha C. Lovett, Marie K. Norman

This terrific book focuses on issues that often vex us all. Each chapter begins with scenarios you may recognize: students not being able to apply what they learned in previous courses; not taking responsibility for their own learning; or doing poorly on assignments even though you thought you’d clearly explained what to do. The chapters then explain what research shows about student learning: what affects, improves, and motivates it; and what concrete strategies we can use in our classrooms. A how-to and why book grounded in solid research, this book comes so highly recommended it’s our Summer Book Club selection for 2012. (Reviewed by Tracy Seeley, Professor, College of Arts and Sciences)

Check out How Learning Works at Gleeson Library.

Authors: Parker J. Palmer and Arthur Zajonc

This book considers how we might better teach the whole student. By elaborating an “integrative” approach, Parker Palmer (who here emphasizes “learning communities” as correctives against both divided education and divided life), and Arthur Zajonc (who underscores the need for systemic integration of inner and outer experience), add to their lifelong work integrating subjective and objective ways of knowing into traditional education. The suggested effects of integrative education invite and inspire experimentation across the disciplines. (Reviewed by Rhonda V. Magee, Professor, School of Law)

Check out The Heart of Higher Education at Gleeson Library.