A richly illustrated book tracing centuries of change in the California landscape is this year's Common Read, a program that connects students and faculty across disciplines by putting the same text in dozens of classrooms.
First launched in Fall 2006, Common Read helps introduce students to academic life and strengthen UC Merced's sense of community.
This year's book -- "A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California" by artist-naturalist Laura Cunningham -- is required reading, in whole or in part, in general education and writing courses. The book also is recommended reading in other first-year classes.
Tom Hothem, coordinator of Common Read and assistant director of the Merritt Writing Program, estimated that about 2,000 students will read all or part of "A State of Change" in class.
Merced community members also are encouraged to read the book and take part in some events -- such as an on-campus appearance by Cunningham on Oct. 5 -- that support Common Read.
"A State of Change" calls on readers to imagine California as it was five centuries ago. It also explores how people have influenced gradual change in the state's natural wonders.
The book displays Cunningham's expertise in scientific illustration and paleontology, and covers topics such as sustainability, ecology, geography and history.
Hothem said the text should help students better understand their environment, including around UC Merced. "We hope to give students a keener perception of our place," Hothem said.
Soccer team kicks off
UC Merced's first NAIA women's soccer team will host its inaugural home soccer match Sept. 28, taking on Las Positas College.
Head coach Megan Atoigue said she is using this season to set the foundation and give the team members a chance to cement their commitment to the team.
"We need to get established," she said. Atoigue, who was hired in May, said she was already "recruiting like crazy" for next year, even as she was getting ready for the fall season that started this month.
In the preseason, about 30 women tried out for the team's 22 spots. Atoigue said she was looking for strength, speed and skill, but also for players who see and understand the game.
UC Merced has had a club team for the past four years, but this is its first year having an NAIA intercollegiate varsity women's soccer team. UC Merced added an NAIA varsity women's basketball team this year, too.
This year's team members come from all over California and Hawaii -- three players are from the Central Coast, four from Southern California, seven from the Central Valley, seven from the Bay Area and one from Hawaii.
"The behind-the-scenes work is challenging," Atoigue said, "but I'm looking forward to teaching them. I love teaching soccer. I am looking forward to watching them develop and come together as a team, and I can't wait to see how it will all turn out in the years to come."
More details about the team can be found at www.ucmercedbobcats.com.
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