President Katsouleas discusses 2020-2021 UConn Reads book selection

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President Thomas Katsouleas talked about why the UConn Reads initiative is an important aspect of the environment at the University of Connecticut and why this year’s book selection is particularly salient. 

This year’s book, Amitav Ghosh’s “The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable,” discusses how limitations of the human imagination can make it difficult to comprehend climate change. Katsouleas said Ghosh presented new perspectives he had not previously considered. 

“Mr. Ghosh sort of gives a perspective on why it is so difficult,” Katsouleas said. “The answers I’ve heard in the past are that it’s just difficult to rally people around something that is somewhat invisible and that takes place over decades, but his point is a little deeper which is, aside from the fact that it’s slow, it’s hard to imagine. He said our imaginations are not capable of capturing the magnitude of it.” 

Katsouleas said he did not completely agree with the argument asserted by Ghosh in the work, but he still found the points made interesting. To him, this is one of the major values of a work like Ghosh’s. 

“[It’s] an interesting insight. I’m still reflecting on it myself, and I’m not sure I completely agree, but the fact that it’s provoking is part of what makes it interesting,” Katsouleas said. 

When speaking about the value of the UConn Reads program for UConn as a community, Katsouleas stressed the value of learning. He said reading Ghosh’s work could not only give students a chance to learn but also a chance to bond over this new information as a community. 

“I think it’s a wonderful addition to the culture and environment of the campus,” Katsouleas said. “We’re about learning, and Socrates said, ‘the purest form of happiness is sharing with someone else something you have learned,’ so this common read gives us a chance to learn together and then share the joy of that learning with each other.” 

Katsouleas said any student who would like to suggest a book is welcome to do so. He said he would be more than happy to pass any books from students on for committee consideration. 

“There’s a committee that reflects on various choices and nominees, so any student who wants to recommend one, I would be more than happy to receive it, pass it on to the committee, and ask them to consider it,” Katsouleas said. 

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