Would You Prefer a Classic?

Perhaps some of you have had the opportunity to read a post by GW student, Will Frey on the blog, The GW Patriot.   His post, Ridiculous, takes the Dean of Freshmen to task for choosing Hot, Flat and Crowded for the Freshman Reading Program.  His post is a little more…shall we say…colorful than my brief summary, but he certainly makes  a valid point.  I’ve emailed and asked him to post his opinions here and I hope he’ll do so.

One of Will’s chief arguments is that the chosen book should be a “classic.”   Will believes the most appropriate topic at this time is economics, but I’ve decided today to give you a few of the classics of the environmental movement that have shaped our views (and likely Friedman’s) on the natural world and our need to preserve it.

silent-springSilent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962)
Rachel Carson is credited with launching the modern environmental movement by writing Silent Spring, which is the reason we no longer use the pesticide, DDT. She faced strong opposition, especially from the chemical manufacturers who tried to brand her a “hysterical woman,” but her work was solid and Congress eventually responded with stronger regulations on pesticide use.

waldenWalden by Henry David Thoreau (1862)
Thoreau made an important philosophical contribution to environmentalism with Walden. After living a simple life in his small wooded cabin, Thoreau wrote about peoples’ relationship with nature and their need to become intimately close with nature.

a-sand-county-almanac1A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold (1949)
Sometimes called the most influential book on conservation,” A Sand County Almanac outlines Leopold argues that we have both a moral and ethical obligation to preserve and protect nature.

What do you think?  Should the Freshman Reading Program be limited to the classics?

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2 Responses

  1. I completely agree with Erica. I think it’s important for GW students to be exposed to the information in Friedman’s book, regardless of their political persuasion. Friedman discusses more than just global warming, and I honestly believe his latest book is a great stepping stone for students who are interested in learning more about a variety of subjects, economics included. I don’t think the intent of the assignment was to convince students that Friedman’s beliefs are correct, but rather to reveal a side to the environmental movement that our generation may not be familiar with otherwise.

  2. The freshman reading program shouldn’t limit itself to the classics. Thomas Friedman’s book, Hot, Flat and Crowded, takes the same pro-environmental stance as many older books do, but has the added benefit of talking of the world’s current issues. There is no denying that the problems addressed in the book are real; students must decide for themselves what the best solution is.

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