The Common Read is part of Harris’ commitment to diversity and inclusion and Harris’ shared 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. 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. As you read through the book, read with a critical lens and explore policy issues that come to light.

The 2021 Common Read was What the Eyes Don’t See, by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha.  A riveting account of the Flint water crisis, What the Eyes Don’t See reveals how misguided policies and bureaucratic indifference placed an entire city at risk. Dr. Hanna-Attisha is an immigrant, doctor, scientist, and mother whose family’s activist roots inspired her pursuit of justice. While the book is centered on environmental policy, it quickly becomes evident that a multitude of policy sectors play important roles in this crisis. This year's Common Read will be announced in Spring 2021.

Common Read Panel Discussions

All incoming students are expected to participate in the Common Read, and all members of the Harris community are encouraged to join. During orientation you will engage in small group discussions on the Common along side your Polis. There also will be a community wide program featuring policy experts engaging in a lively discussion on the policy issues brought to light in the Common Read.  Last year's panel style program featured; Ryan Kellogg, Ph.D., Harris Professor and Deputy Dean for Academic Programs, Sarah E. Fredericks, Ph.D., Divinity School Associate Professor of Environmental Ethics and Director of Doctoral Studies, and Mark N. Templeton, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic at the Law School.

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.