Monday, September 20, 2010
Serendipity 7. Start a Book During Alumni Weekend 2010
Sometimes people who've seen this blog ask me whether I plan to keep going with the New Things project after 2010. The answer is yes, with some modifications. The first is that, in accordance with the suggestion of my list co-originators, Leah and Siham, we're extending 2010 into 2011, and officially ending the year on the last weekend of February, 2011. That's the anniversary of our trip to Bar Harbor, Maine, when Siham and Leah launched their own lists. The second, much bigger change is this: instead of being 52 new things, next year will be 12-12-2. That means one new thing per month, 12 things from this year continued to next (rock climbing, skiing, ice skating and kayaking for sure -- eight more TBD) and two from the much more ambitious Life List. Most of the things on the Life List are really pretty hard -- like running a marathon and climbing Kilimanjaro, so I think two per year is probably reasonable. But as it turns out, I'm starting one of them early, and that is the subject of this post.
The first Life List project is Co-author a Book with Students and/or Alum. I've written one book by myself and done two others with co-authors or co-editors and the experience taught me that I much prefer the latter. But something I hate about working on books in general is that it's so time-consuming and takes me away from the thing I love the most about my job, which is actually spending time with students. So, I was thinking it would be an awesome thing to be able to do both at once, and it turns out that I can. I'm teaching a course for the first time this fall on the Millennium Development Goals (and anyone who isn't quite sure what those are can check out this web site: http://www.undp.org/mdg/) and couldn't find a text book. So, I had the thought that I'd love to write one with the students I've had over the years who are as interested in development issues as I am (and there are quite a few). I sent out a query and was overwhelmed by the level of interest, so we've decided to do it. The plan is to write a ten chapter book: introduction, conclusion and a chapter for each of the eight goals Each of the eight goal chapters will be written by three person student/alumni teams following a standardized template of content to cover. We'll have four country cases, also researched by student/alumni teams, that run through the book. And there will be a small editorial group that will help me with coordination and editing the book content.
Because we just had alumni weekend at Saint Mike's, we folded the first book planning meeting into the weekend's activities. Only about half the team could come -- some couldn't make it to the reunion, and some had work obligations. Kate ('11) and Annie ('13) had probably the best excuse. They're actually representing our Saint Mike's Student Global AIDS Campaign chapter in New York City attending events around the United Nations Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals as I write this -- how cool is that? But the group that was there brought all kinds of great energy and ideas to the table, and once we work through assigning the chapter teams, we'll be ready to get started.
Here are a few photos from the meeting, and from alumni weekend. In the group shot from the planning meeting are: Drisk ('09), Chris ('13), Samantha ('11), Claire ('11), Leah ('07), Alexsis ('11), Matt ('11), Nick ('10), Siham ('07) and Josh ('11). At the table are pictures of Nick, Drisk, Siham and Leah and of Josh, Matt and Alexsis, respectively. There's an unfortunately-dark picture of part of the editorial group -- Leah, Siham and Drisk, wherein Siham had stolen Drisk's world-famous tiger sweatshirt that is his guaranteed conversation-starter wherever he goes. And finally, there is a highly self-congratulatory picture of Leah, Siham and I sitting in everyone's favorite Saint Mike's spot -- the Word Garden (created through the inspired imaginations of my colleagues Mark and Valerie, and grounds crew director Alan). If you haven't been to Saint Mike's campus in the last year, you should take a trip just to hang out there for a few minutes and make your own little statement to the world, as we did.
This is a long post, and a pretty immodest one, but I don't think it's every day that twenty-something students and alum come to together to commit themselves to a year long totally volunteer project that will require a lot of work for which they will get no academic credit (beyond authorship, of course) or financial compensation. I think it says something pretty wonderful about Saint Mike's students and alum, and I am tremendously happy and proud to be working with all of them. We'll be having another formal meeting later in the year, which hopefully everyone, or close to everyone, will be able to attend and there will certainly be posts on the project, so stay tuned. And there are still a couple open slots on the project, so if there are students or alum that I missed the first time around who are interested, shoot me a message as soon as possible.