New Student Book Forum

Helen and Philip Brecher New Student Forum

Now in its 30th year, the Helen and Philip Brecher New Student Forum is the first of many experiences that will begin to build your community and a sense of belonging at Brandeis. The forum is the only time your entire class will have a shared academic experience, reading the same book, and bringing you together for a meaningful connection with your peers and members of our outstanding faculty. This special experience is the beginning of creating a unifying connection that will last for years to come.

Each year, the book is thoughtfully and carefully selected by a committee of faculty and students and staff from a diverse range of disciplines and backgrounds and a unified dedication to humanistic studies. The composition of the committee supports strong cross disciplinary connections, and critical inquiry from multiple perspectives.

The highlight of this experience is that the community of scholars comprising your entering class and the Faculty Ambassadors, participates in a discussion together with the author during New Student Orientation. This spirited engagement is an exemplar of Brandeis’ value of open engagement with important ideas, and a commitment to civility when the book is discussed. The kick-off to your academic experience at Brandeis, this book, and the forum experience provide as an introduction to the types of questions you will seek connection around throughout your tenure at Brandeis and beyond.

Class of 2025

The book chosen for the Class of 2025 is "Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness" by Peter Godfrey-Smith. The book itself is a keepsake of the experience—our first gift welcoming you to the School of Arts and Sciences at Brandeis. We look forward to exploring together!

Listen to a short introductory conversation about this year's book with student Sheila Malley '22, Dorothy Hodgson, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, and professors John Plotz and Elizabeth Ferry. An audio transcript is also available.

Be sure to indicate your book preference (paperback copy or electronic version) on this form.

Student Forum Books 2010 - 2020

"Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions" - Valeria Luiselli

"Swing Time" - Zadie Smith

"Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" - Ben Fountain

"Citizen: An American Lyric" - Claudia Rankine

"Oryx and Crake" - Margaret Atwood

"Anil’s Ghost" - Michael Ondaatje

"Housekeeping" – Marilynne Robinson

"The Known World" – Edward P. Jones

"When the Emperor was Divine" - Julie Otsuka

"Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic" - Alison Bechdel

New Student Forum Committee

John Plotz, Professor of English
Committee Chair

Jamele Adams, Dean of Students

Karen Desmond, Associate Professor of Music 

Elizabeth Ferry, Professor of Anthropology

Matthew Fraleigh, Associate Professor of East Asian Literature and Culture

Albion Lawrence, Professor of Physics

Sheila Malley, Class of 2022

Robin Miller, Edytha Macy Gross Professor of Humanities

Carina Ray, Associate Professor of African and African American Studies

Erika Smith, Dean of Academic Services

Gina Turrigiano, Joseph Levitan Professor of Vision Science