Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

Each year incoming students participate in The Common Read, reading a shared text before arriving at Harris. The main goal is to have all incoming students collectively share in a single learning experience while gaining an appreciation for diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and individual stories. This foundation not only impacts how students work together as classmates, but how they view the world as future policymakers. At Harris, we believe it is essential that policymakers should gain an understanding of the lived experiences of people who have been marginalized while also exploring related policy questions.

“The Common Read is one of the many ways we build community at Harris. Our goal is to create an environment that is inclusive and respectful of differing opinions and where challenging popular discourse and thinking critically is strongly encouraged. The Common Read is a shared experience that forms our commitment to learn, grow, and question during our time here at Harris.” 

Michelle Hoereth, Assistant Dean of Diversity & Inclusion


This year’s Common Read, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, was carefully selected by current Harris students and reflects our ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion. Caste is a non-fiction book that uses narratives of real people to explore the unspoken caste system that continues on today from its roots in colonialism and slavery. We are excited to focus on issues of race, class, and inequality and explore how it all intersects with policy. 

Programming will occur throughout the year for students and the entire Harris community including small and large group discussions. Through examining the text with their peers, students will gain a deeper perspective on the issues they work to resolve in class.

Ebooks will be made available soon and a calendar of events will be released later this summer. Faculty and staff are encouraged to participate.

Past common read books include: 

What the Eyes Don't See (2020)

Just Mercy (2019)

The South Side (2018)

High Rise Stories (2017)