coverThe Summer Reading Program has been designed as an opportunity for incoming students to:

                • participate in a shared intellectual conversation with the IWU community;
                • express ideas about a common text that many IWU students, faculty, staff, and alumni are reading;
                • and respond respectfully to ideas others bring to the discussion. 

In response to IWU's 2015-2016 intellectual theme of Nation(s) Divided?, the Advising and Summer Reading Committee, in consultation with the University's Speakers Committee, selected The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose for the 2015 Summer Reading Program.

Students are expected to purchase and read this selection over the summer of 2015, as well as complete the guided reading questions.  Written responses should be brought to the small group discussions during Turning Titan: New Student Orientation on Wednesday, August 19, 2015.

Kevin Roose will be the speaker for President's Convocation on Wednesday, September 9, 2015 at 11 a.m.

About the book

When Kevin Roose chose to explore a culture different from his own during his Junior year at Brown University, he chose a location as far from his decidedly liberal, New England-located, Ivy League institution as possible.  He chose to study at Liberty University, a conservative, evangelical Christian College founded by Jerry Fallwell in Lynchburg, Virginia.  Anticipating that he would encounter a culture of exclusion, intolerance and moralizing that embodies the red state/blue state meta-narrative popular in modern conceptualizations of American culture, Roose worked to assume a journalistic objectivity that would allow him to document, process and share his experiences.  Yet the culture and people he found at Liberty were far more complex, relatable and multidimensional than his expectations predicted.  As an Unlikely Disciple, Roose found himself questioning his own deeply held values, and developing an empathy that would problematize his them/us worldview long after he returned to Brown.


Roose's Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University embodies IWU's intellectual theme of Nation(s) Divided? as it unpacks the simplistic assumption that America is experiencing a two-sided culture war between forces of inclusion and exclusion.  This idea is reified every time we talk about dually opposed cultural forces, such as Democrat/Republican, liberal/conservative, religious/secular, soccer mom/NASCAR dad, one-percent/ninety-nine percent, and so on. Through the lens of a study abroad experience between two divergent institutions, the summer reading asks us to reject stereotypes and empathetically embrace otherness to further understandings around interconnections of values, beliefs, faith traditions and ways of knowing and being.

About the author

roosephotoKevin Roose graduated from Brown University in 2009, where he studied English literature and wrote regular columns for the Brown Daily Herald. His work has been featured in Esquire, SPIN, mental_floss, and other publications. You can visit his w ebsite at (Biography retrieved from the Hachette Book Group.)