When the Class of 2016 arrives at the end of this month, the incoming students will participate in a range of activities and discussions designed to familiarize them with the Lafayette community’s academic values and expectations.
The orientation program, which runs Aug. 23-26, encourages new students to explore the importance of living in a pluralistic and inclusive community, learn about the resources that can assist them in making a successful transition to college life, and discuss the value of a liberal arts and academically rigorous education.
The orientation theme is “Buying/Power.” Students were asked to read Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell.
“The summer reading is always chosen by a campus committee made up of faculty, staff, and students,” says Hannah Stewart-Gambino, dean of the College. “Each year, the committee reviews a wide variety of titles with an eye toward selecting a reading that both reflects larger conversations on campus and in society as well as addresses broad, multidisciplinary topics that affect Americans in a national context.”
The book explores the dramatic change over the past 75 years in Americans’ shopping habits—from buying “quality to last” to an obsessive search for bargains that drives down prices and often quality. This shift in Americans’ shopping culture also affects how they form assumptions about work, leisure, the value of employment, and the role of the United States in the world. It particularly addresses how the obsession for lower prices affects globalization, outsourcing, planned obsolescence, and economic instability in an increasingly unsettled world.
“The issues explored in Cheap inform many of the debates in this year’s presidential election,” says Stewart-Gambino. “Closer to home, the Class of 2016 will be the first Lafayette class to take courses in the new Common Course of Study that are designed to deepen students’ understanding of the complexities of globalization—themes that will be at the core of the new Oechsle Center for Global Education and the Grossman House for Global Perspectives.”
During orientation, faculty members will lead small group discussions on the book, focusing on the relevance of a liberal arts education in today’s world. Classes for both new and returning students begin Monday, Aug. 27.