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One Book

We Need to Talk


2019-2020 Selection:

We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations that Matter

"We Need to Talk"  "They are, perhaps, the most dreaded four words in the English language. But in this timely, insightful, and wonderfully practical book, Celeste Headlee—a public radio host—makes the case that they are urgently needed." - Book excerpt

Common Intellectual Experiences are one of ten high impact practices identified by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). What better way to launch a successful college career than by engaging in a meaningful conversation about relevant topics!

The One Book Committee welcomes ideas from the university community to support inclusion in the first-year curriculum, as well as for events and programming. Please contact the office of Student Transitions if you wish to get involved and join the conversation early!

Campus Theme: Sustainability & Environment

 Degree Plus

About the Book:

This book is not about public speaking. It is about mastering the art of civil discourse, about reconnecting with our humanity - one to one.

  • Conversation is a survival skill.
  • Listen! Sometimes we shouldn't talk.
  • Empathy is vital to successful conversation.
  • Meaningful connection requires an investment of time.

The 2020 Selection Committee

Celeste Headlee


“In order to have important conversations, you will sometimes have to check your opinions at the door. There is no belief so strong that it cannot be set aside temporarily in order to learn from someone who disagrees. Don’t worry; your beliefs will still be there when you’re done.”

--- Celeste Headlee
Author's Website


Designed with a focus on the power of conversation and civil discourse, sponsored programs will illuminate the interconnected and limitless potential of scholarship, creative and critical thinking, and problem solving skills that invite diverse perspectives.

  • The Conversation Pit
    Week of Welcome: A ball-pit with signs to invite students to engage in converstation 'in the pit'
           August 21 & 22 from 12-2 p.m. on the Blue Ridge Lawn and all week (August 19-23) in the ICA Gallery in the UC.

  • We Need to Talk      
    Continue the conversation about topics that matter as you engage with peers in the Conversation Pit.
    Conversation topics will change weekly.
          Hosted by Intercultural Affairs.
          August 19th through September 27th - ICA Gallery.

  • One Book + One Look +  Listen
    Resounding Change: Sonic Art And The Environment
    Featuring contemporary artists who explore environmental issues through sound. The works in the exhibition,   which range from a large-scale video installation to more intimate encounters with sound, ask  questions about  listening, ecology, empathy, climate change, and more.
          Exhibition: August 20-December 6, 2019 Fine Art Musem
          Reception: August 22 5:00-7:00 p.m.    
  • Opioid & Addiction Crisis Town Hall
    WCU’s Center for the Study of Free Enterprise (CSFE) is teaming up with Jackson County Community Foundation (JCCF) to organize an awareness campaign for September, 2019, capped off by a town hall event on October 3 on WCU’s main campus in Cullowhee, NC.
    Registration required, box lunch is provided. Please Register Here.
          October 3 8:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.-UC Grandroom

  • A Conversation with Celeste Headlee
    In partnership with The Center for the Study of Free Enterprise
    A facilitated conversation with the author, followed by a reception and book signing.
    A degree plus event.
         October 28th at 6:00 p.m.-UC Grandroom

  • Pecha Kucha Night on the Impacts of Climate Change
    Tuesday-November 5, 2019 at 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. in the Blue Ridge Conference Room
    We need to talk
    about climate change and its impacts. Faculty from several different disciplines will present their perspectives, opinions, and ideas about the impacts of climate change within their respective fields of study. The main objective for this event is to address the impacts that this change has on our environment (air quality, water, etc), politics, businesses, education, and so much more.

    This DegreePlus event is part of the Campus Theme Program List.

  • Managerial Communication Workshop with Keynote Speaker Katheleen Osta
    Kathleen Osta, President of Vital Clarity, will lead a professional development workshop. She will be discussing effective managerial communication strategies.
    November 11, 2019 from 6:00-8:50 p.m. at Bilmore Park Room 346

  • Interdisciplinary Innovations Conference: Conversation Panels
    Tuesday, March 17, 2020
    The Nomad, Western Carolina University’s student literary journal, invites proposals from undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines for the Fourth Annual Conference on Interdisciplinary Innovations. The theme of this year’s conference is interdisciplinary conversations. We welcome papers, posters, projects, and artwork that pertain to the conference theme. Selected works may be published in the Fall 2020 issue of The Nomad.  Working from WCU’s One Book, We Need to Talk by Celeste Headlee, this year’s conference invites students to engage in panel conversations. Panel conversations are where two or more students engage in prepared conversations on the same subject and offer different perspectives on a subject.
    Email proposals to
    Click Here for more Information on how to submit proposals.
    Deadlines: Proposals due December 2nd, 2019 by 11:59 p.m. Early submissions are encouraged and will be given early notification.
    Notification of acceptance will be sent by December 8, 2019
    For help writing a conference proposal, use the online conference proposal writing resource here
    Faculty POC: Diane Martinez, , 828.227.3923 

Communication Workshop Series
Join us for these interactive workshops designed and facilitated by the Communications Department Faculty. Student participants will engage in topics that are relevant and important. Supplies and snacks will be provided. Space is limited. Registration is required.

Workshop One:
We Need to Talk...About Sex: How to talk about sex with your partner
Facilitated by Dr. Candy Noltensmeyer and Professor Shelby Brobert.
November 5, 2019
5:00-7:00 p.m.
University Center Multipurpose Room
Please Register Here

Workshop Two:
Let's talk about conflict resolution: How to have conversations that remain civil
Facilitated by Dr. Scott Eldredge and Professor Tamera Cole. 
Coming spring semester, 2020.
Stay tuned for more details and the registration link.

Workshop Three:
Let's talk: How to have the conversation on mental health
Facilitated by Dr. Cindy Noltensmeyer and Dr. Scott Eldredge
Coming spring semester, 2020.
Stay tuned for more details and the registration link.

Amendment 28    
 What do you care enough about to do something about? 
Join this dynamic student workshop and learn how
 to pass legislation on an Environmentalism Issue or other topic that inspires your passion. Successful teams
will be encouraged to submit ideas to appropriate granting organizations on campus.
    Registration required with lunch provided.
      February 29, 2020
      Location and time TBA. When the details are confirmed, we will update with the details here. 
      Stay tuned for more details and registration link here. 

Town Hall: Policy and Legislation
This Town Hall meeting will feature invited guests involved with policy and legislation for a moderated      
       Date and location TBA.

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. Please visit this link often for updates and additions!


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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