Policy Reading Circle Expands Summer Reading Discussion

Book cover: Barking to the Choir
Book cover: How to Be an Antiracist
Book cover, Searching Eyes
Book cover,  Winners Take All
Book cover, Wuhan Diary

June 1, 2020

Each year, Dean Susan Marquis sends incoming students a summer reading list of books that are "insightful but not academic" to set the stage for their academic experience — "to jump-start discussion about policy ideas and problems as the new students begin their studies here."

This year, Marquis said, "We saw an opportunity to engage deeper with our incoming students and the broader Pardee RAND community during the summer, and we will be shifting our format to a virtual Policy Reading Circle.

"During five events we will have an opportunity to discuss these books, much like a traditional book club, but with a policy twist," she added. "Our aim is to connect our new students to their future here in the school and keep the conversation going about policy issues."

Students are asked to read two of the following five books:

  • Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship by Gregory Boyle
  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • Searching Eyes: Privacy, the State, and Disease Surveillance in America by Amy Fairchild, Ronald Bayer, and James Colgrove
  • Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing The World by Anand Giridharadas
  • Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City by Fang Fang

These selections were winnowed down from scores of submissions. Marquis had asked for suggestions from across Pardee RAND — faculty as well as students and staff: "What have you read lately that has moved you or pushed you to act?"

She says the books she selected "center on how policy affects the lives of real people in our diverse nation and beyond."

The Dean will discuss Winners Take All with the incoming cohort in July and will participate in all of the discussions over the summer. Students Max Izenberg and Nabeel Qureshi (both Cohort '18) will lead the discussion of How to Be an Antiracist with incoming students and the broader Pardee RAND community later that month. Members of the Pardee RAND community will lead discussions of the other three books, which will be scheduled for later in the summer.

With that in mind, we encourage you to grab a book (or five!) and join the Dean for the inaugural Pardee RAND Policy Reading Circle this summer.

—Monica Hertzman