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One Book

The Other Side of the River


2021-2022 Selection

The Other Side of The River: A Story of Two Towns, A Death, And America's Dilemma

Selected by a university-wide committee to be complimentary with the Campus Theme: Water, both the One Book program and Campus Theme provide a common intellectual experience defined by AAC&U as one of ten high impact practices

One Book sponsered programs are designed to meet the requirements for:
Degree Plus

Campus Theme: Water

A compelling work of non-fiction, The Other Side of the River centers around the mysterious death of a black teenager in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The book was selected, in part, to complement WCU’s 2021-2022 campus theme, water, but also to promote continued conversations around topics of race, privilege and policing in America. The river at the center of the book serves as a poignant symbol for the divide that exists between two racially-divided communities and for the underlying currents of belief that each community holds about the other. Read more about the book. 


The 2021 Selection Committee



Alex Kotlowitz is a former Wall Street Journal staff writer who now works as a professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Kotlowitz is known for his in-depth research, keen powers of observation and empathic storytelling. Read more about Alex Kotlowitz.



Wednesday, November 3, 2021:

  • An Evening with Alex Kotlowitz, author of The Other Side of the River
    • UC Grandroom, 6:00 pm
  • Reception and Book Signing with the Author
    • UC Illusions, 7:00 pm

Monday, November 8, 2021:
Coffee with a Cop

  • UC Grandroom, 6:30 PM- 8:00 PM. Register on WCU Engage for Zoom Link. Refreshments will be provided.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021:
WCU Town Hall on Race(Presented by the One Book Program)
Featuring Students, Faculty, Staff and Scholars
UC Multipurpose Room, 4:30-7:00 pm . Free and Open to students, faculty and staff.
Learn More about the event.

CONNECTING THE DOTS: Campus Theme and other points of connection
Many programs are being designed to help students make the valuable connection between the book and the theme, both flagship programs are defined as Common Intellectual Experiences, one of ten High Impact Practices defined by AAC&U.

2020-2021 WCU Campus Theme: WATER
Learn more about the 2020-201 Campus Interdisciplinary theme, Water

The mission of the One Book program is to engage first-year students, as well as the campus community, in a common intellectual experience that promotes critical thinking and interdisciplinary conversation. This experience will allow participants to strengthen academic skills, create connections with peers, instructors, and community members, and relate universal themes to personal experience and identity. The program seeks to reflect WCU’s core values and responsibilities as a regionally engaged university.

One Book committee members will serve as ambassadors who aid in integrating reading selection themes into course curricula, campus events, service learning opportunities, and departmental goals. The selection committee comprises individuals from across campus, ensuring that values and views of all academic units are considered and represented.

The One Book Experience Will:

  • Introduce clear expectations of academic performance and engagement
  • Create opportunities to reveal and explore notions of community
  • Reflect the University’s mission and core values
  • Integrate book themes into course curricula, particularly transition course curricula
  • Encourage interaction among peers, instructors, campus and local community members
  • Foster interdisciplinary discourse and partnership
  • Offer diverse perspectives and cultural exploration
  • Stimulate student self-discovery and personal development
  • Inspire participation and support from faculty and administrators by clearly conveying the book’s relevance to   the academic experience and student enrichment
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