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IST 394 Close Reading courses are book discussions open to everyone. Any student or faculty/staff member or NKU alum from any disciplinary background can participate in a weekly meeting to discuss book-length treatments of important interdisciplinary topics and issues. It is also offered as a one credit hour seven week class. Those taking the course for credit will be asked to help lead discussions and submit regular reflections on the reading and discussion.

Our goals:

  • Demonstrate how different disciplinary and professional perspectives can provide insights to larger, complex topics and issues. 
  • Bring faculty, staff, students, and alumni together in meaningful conversation.
  • Highlight the value of indepth reading and discussion that is both critical and collaborative.

Information for students about specific courses will be available on Canvas. Students can sign up for credit through MyNKU.


Woodard american Nationsw

Spring 2022 First Session January 10 - Febrary 25

This damning account of the forces that have hijacked progress on climate change shares a bold vision of what it will take, politically and economically, to face the existential threat of global warming head-on.

Drawing on years of reporting, Aronoff lays out an alternative vision, detailing how democratic majorities can curb polluters’ power; create millions of well-paid, union jobs; enact climate reparations; and transform the economy into a more leisurely and sustainable one. Our future will require a radical reimagining of politics—with the world at stake. Meets Mondays at noon in FH 361 and online (Zoom). 

Woodard american Nationsw

Spring 2022 Second Session March 21 - May 6

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story builds on one of the most consequential journalistic events of recent years: The New York Times Magazine’s award-winning “1619 Project,” which reframed our understanding of American history by placing slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. This new book substantially expands on the original 1619 Project, weaving together eighteen essays that explore the legacy of slavery in present-day America with thirty-six poems and works of fiction that illuminate key moments of oppression, struggle, and resistance. Meets Mondays at noon in FH 361 and online (Zoom). 

Woodard american Nationsw

Fall 2021 First Session August 23 - October 4

In Noise, Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein show the detrimental effects of noise in many fields, including medicine, law, economic forecasting, forensic science, bail, child protection, strategy, performance reviews, and personnel selection. Wherever there is judgment, there is noise. Yet, most of the time, individuals and organizations alike are unaware of it. They neglect noise. With a few simple remedies, people can reduce both noise and bias, and so make far better decisions. Meets Mondays at noon in FH 361 and online (Zoom). 

Woodard american Nationsw

Fall 2021 Second Session October 25 - December 6

World-renowned philosopher Michael J. Sandel argues that to overcome the crises that are upending our world, we must rethink the attitudes toward success and failure that have accompanied globalization and rising inequality. Sandel shows the hubris a meritocracy generates among the winners and the harsh judgement it imposes on those left behind, and traces the dire consequences across a wide swath of American life. He offers an alternative way of thinking about success--more attentive to the role of luck in human affairs, more conducive to an ethic of humility and solidarity, and more affirming of the dignity of work. The Tyranny of Merit points us toward a hopeful vision of a new politics of the common good. Meets Mondays at noon in FH 361 and online (Zoom). 

Woodard american Nationsw

Spring 2021 Second Session March 15 - April 30

Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything: Capitalism and the Climate. Klein exposes the myths that are clouding the climate debate.

We have been told the market will save us, when in fact the addiction to profit and growth is digging us in deeper every day. We have been told it’s impossible to get off fossil fuels when in fact we know exactly how to do it—it just requires breaking every rule in the “free-market” playbook: reining in corporate power, rebuilding local economies, and reclaiming our democracies. Meets Mondays at noon on Zoom. 

Woodard american Nationsw

Spring 2021 First Session January 11 - February 26

Isabel Wilkerson's Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings. Meets Mondays at noon on Zoom. 

Woodard american Nationsw

Fall 2020 Second Session October 14 - December 4

Davis Epstein's Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range makes a compelling case for actively cultivating inefficiency. Failing a test is the best way to learn. Frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers. The most impactful inventors cross domains rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area. As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive. Meets Mondays at noon on Zoom. 

Woodard american Nationsw

Fall 2020 First Session August 17 - October 2

Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community—and all of us—to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America. Meets Wednesdays at noon on Zoom.

Woodard american Nationsw

Fall 2020 First Session August 17 - October 2

Elizabeth Feldman Barrett's How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain. Psychologist and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett proposes a theory of emotionthat is driving a deeper understanding of the mind and brain, and shedding new light on what it means to be human. Her research overturns the widely held belief that emotions live in distinct parts of the brain and are universally expressed and recognized. Instead, she has shown that emotion is constructed in the moment, by core systems that interact across the whole brain, aided by a lifetime of learning. Meets Mondays at noon on Zoom. 

Woodard american Nationsw

Spring 2020 Second Seven Weeks

Colin Woodard, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. Woodard takes readers on a journey through the history of our fractured continent, offering a revolutionary and revelatory take on American identity, and how the conflicts between them have shaped our past and continue to mold our future.

Nissenbaum Privacy in Context

Spring 2020. First Seven Weeks

Helen Nissenbaum, Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life. Arguing that privacy concerns should not be limited solely to concern about control over personal information, Helen Nissenbaum counters that information ought to be distributed and protected according to norms governing distinct social contexts—whether it be workplace, health care, schools, or among family and friends.

Warren All the King's Men

Fall 2019. Second Seven Weeks

Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men. “Depicting the rise and fall of a dictatorial southern politician...the timeless story and memorable characters raise questions about the importance of history, moral conflicts in public policy, and idealism in government.” (Jonathan Cullick. Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men: A Reader's Companion)

sapolsky behave

Fall 2019. First Seven Weeks

Robert Sapolsky’s recent book, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, brings biology, psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, and social science to the complex study of human behavior.