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Discussion of ‘This I Believe’ kicks off book program

Learning communities 'common read'

Learning communities students discuss book about beliefs.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release [8-24-11]

Dan Gediman will read from and discuss his book, "This I Believe," to kick off Minnesota State Mankato’s learning communities program for incoming first-year students Thursday, Aug. 25.

Gediman, editor of "This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women," will speak at 7 p.m. in Ostrander Auditorium. The discussion is free and open to students, faculty, staff and the public, and a book-signing will follow the presentation.

Gediman will record a radio segment to air on KMSU-FM at 9:10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 26.

Many colleges and universities use a summer “common reading” program to give incoming first-year students a common experience before they arrive on campus. This is the second year for the Minnesota State Mankato learning communities’ common read; last year students read "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson.

This year learning community students were asked to read "This I Believe." Seminar instructors are using the book in their classes, and staff members are working with the Blue Earth County and North Mankato Taylor libraries to invite community participation.

This year’s program is open to anyone who wants to read the book and join the activities. Reading the book is not a requirement to attend Gediman’s Thursday presentation.

A 1950s-era radio program “This I Believe,” hosted by Edward R. Murrow, asked Americans to briefly explain their most cherished beliefs. The program was revived in 2005 as a weekly National Public Radio segment, hosted by Jay Allison, and the book is a collection of the best essays from the 20th- and the 21st-century radio shows.

Allison calls the book “your personal credo,” noting that the modern-day radio program solicits opinions from ordinary Americans in all walks of life.

“The goal is not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs,” Gediman adds. “Rather, the hope is to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.”

Participating students, faculty, staff and members of the public are writing “This I Believe” essays, which participants can submit and the public can view at after Gediman’s visit. Selected essays will be read at an event later in the year.

Several other “common read” events are planned. On Sept. 15 a faculty panel will answer questions about the book in a public Ostrander Auditorium event at 7 p.m. Later in the year, a panel of religious leaders will discuss their religions.

More information about “common read” events is available at or from Kate Hansen, New Student and Family Programs, (507) 389-5498 or Information about the national “This I Believe” dialogue is at

Minnesota State Mankato’s Learning Communities Program is for incoming first-year students who want to increase their academic success by taking classes together and living in the same area of a residence hall. Participating students set academic goals and take part in study groups, service work and campus events.

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, which comprises 32 state institutions.

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