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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 PM 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.
  • 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.
        Saturday, September 21st 10:00 am - 3:00 pm. - Blue Ridge Conference Room

  • Addiction Town Hall
          An on-campus opiod & addiction town hall disccussion featuring two national elected officials,
          several NC and WNC leaders including WCU Faculty.
          October 3 10:00 am-2:30 PM-UC Grandroom

  • A Conversation with Celeste Headlee
         A facilitated conversation with the author, followed by a reception and book signing.
         October 28th at 6:00 PM-UC Grandroom

  • We Need to Talk Town Hall
          This Town Hall meeting will feature invited guests from the science and business community for a 
          moderated discussion about enviromental sustainability.
          November 5 from 6-8 pm - Blue Ridge Conference Room

  • We Need to Talk Town Hall
           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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