Texas State Common Experience revealed its theme for the 2021-2022 academic year will be “Compassion.”
The theme is a scholarly real-world look at the identity of the Texas State community, focusing on topics such as mindfulness, support, relief and genuine human kindness.
Twister Marquiss, director of the Common Experience, says this theme was chosen since it addressed something unique and something that he feels the community needed, especially after the past year.
"It's a chance for the entire university to reflect on the ideas of kindness and mindfulness," Marquiss says. "But it's especially a moment to consider that our students have been through a lot in the past year. It's an opportunity for us to want to understand one another and by looking at the ways that we can all be kinder, more compassionate and more complete, it provides an avenue for us to have a lot of other discussions too."
The theme examines compassion as a concept that has the power to spark change for the better, beginning with the self and expanding throughout the campus, community, country and world.
Since 2004, Texas State has announced a theme to cultivate community thought and participation in campus-wide discussions and events. The Common Experience is the nation’s number one initiative of its kind, providing students, faculty and staff with more academic event opportunities than any other university.
As of now, Common Experience events for the 2021-2022 academic year are tentatively slated to be in person. Marquiss says they will try to present larger events in a hybrid format whenever possible to accommodate those who prefer to livestream the event rather than attend in-person.
Another part of the initiative is the common reading book. First-year Texas State students will receive a copy of a critically-acclaimed book related to the theme. The book will be introduced to new students at New Student Orientation and during discussions in university seminar classes and other courses.
Marquiss says new students were kept in mind when choosing this year's theme, especially since they are introduced to Texas State through common reading book discussions and since they have also had an exhausting year, dealing with things like online school and canceled graduations.
"We're hoping that this theme can provide a breath of fresh air that is also a doorway into deeper academic discussions," Marquiss says.
Currently, the Common Reading selection committee is finalizing decisions for the new theme’s book selection. A separate announcement will be made soon with the chosen text.
Marquiss says he hopes this theme will encourage students to get to know their peers and learn something about one another.
"I think there are a lot of opportunities for us to grow and I think there are a lot of opportunities for us to understand," Marquiss says. "And with understanding comes compassion and with compassion comes action."
For more information about “Compassion” and the Common Experience program, visit its website.