One Book program focusing on modern Africa, including discussions with author

Western Carolina University’s One Book program this year aligns with the university’s ongoing two-year interdisciplinary learning theme, “Africa! More than a Continent.”

One Book provides students, faculty and staff an opportunity to engage in a common intellectual experience by reading and discussing the same book and, with this year’s selection of “The Bright Continent, Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa” by Dayo Olopade, the program directly ties in with the university’s theme of exploring African issues ranging from culture and arts to economics and health care.

One Book program events begin Thursday, Sept. 20, and continue through the author’s visit to campus in late October.

All freshmen received a free copy of “The Bright Continent” during orientation sessions. The students were expected to read the book before the start of fall semester classes and engage in conversations about the book as it is incorporated into many first-year courses. Olopade’s work is her journalistic account of life in modern Africa and the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the continent’s many peoples.

Author and journalist Dayo Olopade will appear on campus for a book-signing event, Wednesday, Oct. 26.

Author and journalist Dayo Olopade will appear on campus for a book-signing event, Wednesday, Oct. 26.

“The One Book program brings us together as a community and ‘The Bright Continent’ is an ideal book in that it gives us the communities of Africa to explore and is presented in chapters that examine a different, specific topic,” said Glenda Hensley, director of the Office of Student Transitions, formerly the Office of First Year Experience. Hensley’s office directs the One Book program, which is sponsored by WCU’s Division of Student Success. “(The book) makes it easy to accommodate instructors to present and easy for students to understand. That reflects our mission to stimulate student self-discovery and personal development, revealing diverse perspectives as we collectively explore another culture,” Hensley said.

Olopade is a Nigerian-American journalist whose work has appeared in print and online, and she has made numerous broadcast appearances. Born and raised in Chicago, she holds degrees in literature and in African Studies from Yale University, where she is currently a Knight Law and Media Scholar.

As a Washington correspondent, she covered the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency and had work published by the Atlantic, Democracy, The Guardian, The Nation, New York Times and Washington Post.

The One Book program events schedule includes:

Reading Roundtable: Peer roundtable book discussion, facilitated by students, exploring the themes and topics of “The Bright Continent,” Tuesday, Sept. 20, 5 to 6:30 p.m., Blue Ridge Conference Room.

Panel Discussion Series: Faculty-facilitated discussions to examine the book’s themes and topics.

  • “The Nature Map: To Feed, Fuel and Build the Future,” facilitated by Laura Wright, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 1 to 2 p.m., University Center Multipurpose Room.
  • “Kanju: The Fine Line Between Genius and Crime,” facilitated by Tamera Cole, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 4 to 5 p.m., Blue Ridge Meeting Room A.
  • “Stuff We Don’t Want: Doing Bad in Africa,” facilitated by Lane Perry, Thursday, Oct. 6, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Blue Ridge Meeting Room A.
  • “Fail States: Why African Government Hasn’t Worked,” facilitated by Colin Townsend, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., University Center Multipurpose Room.

Author Event: Olopade will discuss her journey of discovery and perspectives as an author and journalist, followed by a reception and book-signing event, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 6 to 8 p.m., University Center Grandroom.

Author in the Classroom: Olopade will visit selected classes to engage in conversations with students about the themes and her perspectives, Thursday, Oct. 27, 8 to 11 a.m. (Not an open event.)

For more information on the One Book program or other Division of Student Success activities, visit online at Office of Student Transitions or call 828-227-3017.