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University of Kansas announces 2021 Common Book

Wed, 04/14/2021

LAWRENCE — After a brief hiatus, the Common Book program at the University of Kansas will relaunch in 2021-22 with new and exciting collaborations. First, KU and Haskell Indian Nations University will unite to explore the same book, Robin Wall Kimmerer’s critically acclaimed and bestselling “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants.”

“This partnership will enable our two communities to work together on creating a broad range of opportunities to engage with an extraordinary book, the questions it asks and the ways in which it challenges us to think, feel and act differently,” said Susan Klusmeier, vice provost for academic success. “The Common Book program at KU looks forward to future collaborations with Haskell.”

Second, the Common Book program at KU will move forward as a partnership between Academic Success and the Hall Center for the Humanities, with a reaffirmed commitment to maximizing integration of the Common Book into the curriculum.

Robin Wall Kimmerer. Photo credit: Dale Kakkak“Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair. Not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the earth gives me daily and I must return the gift,” writes Robin Wall Kimmerer in “Braiding Sweetgrass.” This thought-provoking collection of essays weaves together botany, the teachings of Indigenous peoples and Kimmerer’s own experiences as a mother, teacher and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Her essays explore the intertwined relationship between humans and the countless plant species that co-inhabit the planet, considering ways in which we can learn from plants as we seek to build a more sustainable world.  

“Braiding Sweetgrass” takes on vital and timely themes such as sustainability and the value of reciprocity. It will encourage students at KU and Haskell to engage thoughtfully and in a spirit of compassion with each other and the Earth. 

Kimmerer will visit KU and Haskell from Nov. 10 to Nov. 11 to meet with students and to give a public talk hosted by the Hall Center for the Humanities.  

Common Book programs have the shared goal of encouraging students to become involved in the intellectual life of their universities. They connect students, faculty and staff across campuses and communities. The selection committee – with representation from KU and Haskell – concluded that “Braiding Sweetgrass” will be a particularly rich addition to courses in a wide range of disciplines and programs. 

Details will follow soon about how to obtain copies of the book, and there will be multiple opportunities to participate in discussion groups and events during the fall and spring semesters. These conversations will also take place in a broad network of courses. 

Please check in regularly with the KU Common Book website for updates. 

KU/Haskell Common Book and Hall Center events are free and open to the public. 



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