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‘The Big Thirst’ selected as One Book for incoming first-year students

First-year students entering Western Carolina University this fall will get a jumpstart on the 2020-21 campus learning theme – water – with the selection of next year’s One Book, “The Big Thirst,” by Charles Fishman.

This year’s One Book, which is distributed to all first-year students during New Student Orientation, was selected by a university-wide committee to be complimentary with the campus theme, said Glenda Hensley, director of WCU’s First Year Experience.

“Both the One Book Program and the campus theme provide a common intellectual experience, which is one of 10 high-impact practices defined by the Association of American Colleges and Universities,” Hensley said. “With intentional alignment, WCU can provide a stronger point of connection for students, as well as to support incorporation of both into curricular planning by faculty. Additionally, the alignment allows the expansion of campus partnerships through advanced collaborative planning in order to maximize university resources and engagement opportunities.”

“The Big Thirst” tells how the world has gone from a golden age in which water was abundant, free and safe to a new era that requires people to rethink how they approach and use water.

The One Book Program is heading into its seventh year. Its mission is to engage first-year students, as well as the campus community, in a common intellectual experience that promotes critical thinking and interdisciplinary conversation. Students are instructed to read the book before fall semester. It is a requirement for all students enrolled in a first-year transition course. The program is sponsored by the Office of Student Transitions in the Division of Student Success.

For more information on the One Book Program, visit or contact Hensley at



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