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One Book

The Big Thirst


2020-2021 Selection

The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water

Selected by a university-wide committee to be complimentary with the Campus Theme: Water, both the One Book program and Campus Theme provide a common intellectual experience defined by AAC&U as one of ten high impact practices

Ideas are invited 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! One Book programs are designed to meet the requirements for Degree Plus

Campus Theme: Water

 Degree Plus

This book is about understanding the importance of water, not only worldwide but also the water in our communities that effects our lives every day.

"From the moons of Saturn to the hotels of Las Vegas - Fishman vividly show that we've already left behind a golden age of thoughtlessly abundant, free, and safe water, but also that as dramatic as the challenges are, we have all the means to meet them."---book jacket excerpt

The 2020 Selection Committee

Charles Fishman


As a reporter, Charles Fishman has tried to get inside organizations, both familiar and secret, and explain how they work. In the course of reporting about water to write The Big Thirst, Fishman has stood at the bottom of a half-million-gallon sewage tank, sampled water directly from the springs in San Pellegrino, Italy, and Poland Spring, Maine, and carried water on his head for 3 km with a group of Indian villagers. Continue Reading


Please stay tuned for the full calendar of events and programs that will compliment this year's selection!

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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