Academic Core

image of: Clint Smith's Book Cover "How The Word Is Passed"The First Year Seminar Program is pleased to announce that the 2022/2023 Common Read is Clint Smith’s How the Word is Passed (2021). Smith’s book recounts his travels to eight historical sites and investigates the way the story of slavery is told in relation to these locations and how these stories shape Americans’ understandings of the history of slavery and its social consequences. The Common Read Committee – comprised of faculty, staff, and students from across the college – selected Smith’s book to help our students develop a deeper understanding of and a more critical engagement with issues related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). 

The Common Read is incorporated into our students’ first-year experience. Students are asked to purchase and read the book prior to arriving on campus in the fall. How the Word is Passed will no doubt help us as a college community to engage with one another in meaningful conversations about race, develop our understanding of the complexities of history and storytelling, appreciate the importance of diverse perspectives and voices, and work towards the Marist mission of helping students lead “enlightened, ethical, and productive lives in the global community of the 21st century.” 

“In this exploration of the ways we talk about – and avoid talking about – slavery, Smith blends reportage and deep critical thinking to produce a work that interrogates both history and memory.” – Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe

The First Year Seminar Program is scheduling lectures and trips throughout the academic year that will engage with prominent themes in Smith’s book. 




Historical List of Marist Common Read Books


Emmanuel Acho,
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man


Joshua Douglas,
Vote for Us: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting


Naomi Alderman,
The Power


Jonathan Starr,
It Takes a School


Reyna Grande,
The Distance Between Us


Wes Moore,
The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates


Azar Nafisi,
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


Steven Johnson,
The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic and How it Changed, Science, Cities, and the Modern World

2013-14 Rebecca Skloot,
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks