South's Common Read Offers Food for Thought

Posted on June 12, 2024
Joy Washington

“The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People and Communities” by Will Allen is the University of South Alabama’s Common Read/Common World book selection for 2024-25.

South’s entire campus, including students, faculty, staff and the greater Mobile community, is invited to participate in the annual Common Read experience, which includes speakers, events, and meals, as well as service activities. Many freshmen will read “The Good Food Revolution” as part of their First-Year Experience classes.

South's campus community can check out printed and digital copies of “The Good Food Revolution” at The Marx Library. The goal of the Common Read program is to build community through conversation and shared experiences.  

“We will be inviting discussion on areas from health and entrepreneurship to urban planning and history, from civic engagement to food culture, identity, athletics and anthropology,” said Dr. Ellen Harrington, chair of the English Department and co-chair of the Common Read Committee at South. “‘The Good Food Revolution’ will offer myriad opportunities for campus engagement, from First-Year Experience and general education classes to major classes, as well as activities and experiences related to food around the campus and community.”

Co-chair Dr. Mike Wilkinson, South’s assistant dean of students, said he’s excited that ”The Good Food Revolution” has been selected as the Common Read book for the upcoming academic year.

“There's something special that happens when you bring people together around food and culture,” Wilkinson said. “Different lived experiences are shared that we can learn and grow from. It creates an environment where individuals feel welcome, safe and like they belong. Ultimately, food helps create community. As such, I think the selection of this book is especially fitting, as it can help serve as a bridge to bringing individuals together in a positive way here at South. I can't wait to see it all come to fruition.” 

The book’s author, Will Allen, is a former NBA basketball player-turned-corporate executive for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Proctor & Gamble. He’s now considered a pioneering farmer and recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, known as the “genius award.” Allen is recognized for creating a new food system that can feed communities and cities.

The son of a sharecropper, Allen did not plan to leave his corporate job to become a farmer. But, after cashing in his retirement fund for a two-acre plot of land outside of Milwaukee, he turned his small enterprise into Growing Power Inc. The educational nonprofit is dedicated to providing fresh, locally-grown produce for the surrounding community. In 2010, Time magazine named Allen one of the most influential people in the world.

The Common Read Committee selected the book for the following reasons:

  • Potential to engage students and spark passionate discussion;
  • Appeal to a wide range of students;
  • Opportunities for classroom use among various departments, including First-Year Experience;
  • Inclusion of cross-cultural education, awareness, knowledge and sensitivity;
  • Options for campus programming; and 
  • Relevance to student life.

Common Read/Common World is a University-wide program made possible by a partnership between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs.

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