Friday, Sept. 25th - 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. (Doors Open at 11:30 a.m.)

We are excited to welcome students from all over the globe to Harris this fall.  As your preparation begins, we are excited to help you get started with an initiative that will help you not only learn, but also build a shared experience with your classmates and create community at Harris – The Common Read.  

The common read is carefully selected by our Orientation Staff.  Part of the selection process includes reflection on the goals of the common read and our commitment to provide ongoing dialogue throughout the school year on important policy topics directly related to the book. The common read is part of Harris’ commitment to diversity and inclusion and our belief that it is essential that future policymakers be given the opportunity to gain an understanding of the lived experiences of people who have been marginalized and explore related policy questions.  As you read through the book over the summer, read with a critical lens and explore policy issues that come to light.  The main goal is simple – to have all incoming students collectively share in a single learning experience while gaining an appreciation for diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and individual stories that not only impacts how we work together as classmates, but how we view the world as future policymakers. 

All incoming students are expected to participate in the Common Read.  There will be small group discussions during orientation as well as a large group discussion that will occur at the Common Read Luncheon. It is imperative that all students read the book prior to orientation in order to contribute and gain from the discussion with your peers. In addition, Orientation Leaders will be engaging incoming students in a variety of ways over the summer to help ensure that everyone is included in the Common Read process. This is a unique opportunity to partake in conversation and bring you together with your Harris community. All continuing students, faculty, and staff are also encouraged to participate in the common read before the start of the academic year and contribute to discussions that will occur throughout the school year. 

You will be challenged to reflect upon the common read at the Common Read Luncheon on September 25, 2020 from 12:00 - 1:30 pm.  The Luncheon will include opening remarks from Michelle Hoereth, Director of Diversity and Inclusion.  Last year's luncheon featured a panel of policy experts including;

  • Alice Kim, Director of Human Rights Practice, Pozen Family Center for Human Rights
  • Risa Lanier, Chief, Criminal Prosecutions Bureau Cook County State's Attorney's Office
  • Sharone Mitchell, Jr., Director Illinois Justice Project

Past common read books include: 

Just Mercy (2019)

The South Side (2018)

High Rise Stories (2017)



“Just Mercy,” 2019-2020 Common Read, Sparks Conversations on Race, Injustice

In a tradition begun by Harris students, Common Read confronts issues of diversity, inclusion, and public policy.