University of Calgary

Common Reading Program selection announced: No Impact Man

UToday HomeMay 16, 2013

By Casey Blais and Melissa Lackey

Reading programHoping to make a big impact on the incoming Class of 2017, the University of Calgary has chosen No Impact Man by Colin Beavan as this year’s Common Reading Program book selection.

Chosen by a committee of students, faculty and staff, No Impact Man tells the story of how Beavan and his family engaged in a year-long experiment to produce no net environmental impact. This meant swearing off plastic, going organic, turning off power and taking drastic measures to commit to making zero environmental impact — all while living in the heart of New York City.

As this year’s Common Reading Program selection, every newly admitted student will have the opportunity to receive No Impact Man and take part in discussions, contests and community events held throughout the summer, during Fall Orientation Week and for the remainder of the academic year.

Students will also hear Beavan speak at the New Student Induction Ceremony held on Sept. 3, the first day of Fall Orientation Week.

“Sustainability, development of leadership skills, and connection to community are three of our academic priorities  – and so the selection of No Impact Man as the book for our common reading program for incoming students is a perfect fit,” said Dru Marshall, provost and vice-president (academic) at the University of Calgary.

“We hope it will allow students to come together and reflect upon their ability to individually and collectively make a difference in their own communities, and in communities around the world.”

This book builds on sustainability goals reflected in the Academic Plan and practiced during Fall Orientation Week, including waste-free events and ucalgarycares Day of Service placements. It also complements existing programming operated by the Office of Sustainability and the Centre for Community-Engaged Learning.

The University of Calgary’s Common Reading Program is the first of its kind among universities in Canada. Now in its third year, the program is designed to give incoming students a common and shared academic experience — one that encourages a sense of community, and provides a basis for students to begin exploring the idea of leadership within their roles on campus and in the greater community.

Interested in volunteering?

Each year, the Common Reading Program requires a small army of dedicated, engaging and enthusiastic individuals from the campus community to help facilitate group discussions with newly admitted students during Fall Orientation Week — 120 discussion groups in total.

Volunteers will receive a complimentary copy of the book, a facilitator’s guide that includes prompts to be used during group discussions, and a detailed overview of the program. Faculty volunteers can be paired with groups of students who are in their areas.

Sessions on facilitator training and an orientation to the program can be provided. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact


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