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Skidmore College
2019 Summer Reading
First-Year Experience

Dear Members of the Class of 2023,

A central feature of Skidmore's First-Year Experience is the Summer Reading Program, the purpose of which is twofold.  First, we want to emphasize that education is not confined to the classroom or the academic calendar; on the contrary, learning is ongoing, and we hope you will begin thinking (and reading) like a college student before you even get to campus.  Second, we want to provide the entire first-year class with a common intellectual experience centered on a challenging topic.  The Summer Reading helps us accomplish these goals.

For the Class of 2023, we have chosen Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong about the World—and Why Things are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund, and Ola Rosling.

A New York Times bestseller, Factfulness begins with a basic problem: why do individuals from all walks of life consistently guess incorrectly when asked about global trends?  The answer—we revert to habits of thought that distort our perspectives—provides the basis for the book’s organization, which explores each of these habits in turn.   Building on scholarship in psychology and utilizing widespread examples from the field of public health, Factfulness reveals how our views of the world are informed by unconscious biases that are nonetheless predictable.  Ultimately it argues that, despite what the media tell us, things are better than we think; it also makes an eloquent plea for future decisions based on data.

Factfulness is internationalist in scope, pragmatic in approach, and focused on the continuing effort to improve the material conditions of humanity.  Yet it also has much to teach us about how to make progress, which requires recognizing and fighting our own ignorance.  And it is fundamentally optimistic about our ability to do so.  We trust that you will be both surprised and stimulated by its insights.

Information will be forthcoming about a signature event for the entire first-year class focused on this book; please watch the FYE website for details.  There will also be ample opportunity for students and faculty to discuss the book and the issues it raises in their seminar groups. 

All first-year students are expected to read and contemplate this book in its entirety prior to their arrival on campusWhile no single book will sufficiently prepare you for the breadth of academic work you will encounter at Skidmore, we believe that this initial reading offers a starting point.   Enjoy the book, enjoy the summer, and come to campus prepared and excited to begin your undergraduate journey.  We look forward to welcoming you.


Janet G. Casey
Director, First Year Experience
Professor of English

P.S.  Make sure to bring the book with you when you come to campus!