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Affluenza: the all-campus book

Authors of required reading on American consumerism, environment to visit campus

Published: Thursday, November 13, 2008

Updated: Monday, November 22, 2010 04:11

Beginning last summer, incoming freshmen were required to read "Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic" before classes began as part of the Bearkats Read to Succeed program.

"Affluenza" discusses the harm done to American families, health, communities and the environment, due to the pursuit of materialistic gain.

This book, written by John de Graaf, David Wann and Thomas H. Naylor, is being integrated into classes in the form of lectures, assignments, discussions and film series. One professor, Dr. Carroll Nardone, is assigning excerpts of this book to her students for a junior level course.

"My students can look at the arguments as one of [those] people affected by the high consumer situation we're in and they can also look at it from a detached perspective and see if the authors are using valid argumentative techniques," Nardone said.

After reading the book, Nardone thought about many aspects of consumer choices for the first time and was excited to share this with her students.

"The book talks about asking the right questions," Nardone said. "Ultimately, a more critical question about where we are in society, what we are doing, how our choices are affecting those way beyond us-that's an important concept to learn and no one course is going to teach that."

Two of the authors, de Graaf and Wann, will be on campus Thursday at 11 a.m. in LSC 320 to discuss their book. Associate professor in the Mass Communications Department, Dr. Marc Edge, is assigning his MCM 465 students to cover this event.

"The authors will be speaking during our class time, so my students will cover this as a news story for their online journalism course. I am interested in finding out about it and I think the students should learn about it too," Edge said.

One author, de Graaf, is a sociologist and has written and produced award-winning television programs for over 20 years. Wann, an environmental scientist, worked for the Environmental Protection Agency and now produces articles, books and videos about sustainable lifestyles. The author who will be absent on Thursday, Naylor, is a Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University and is an international strategic management consultant.

Nardone encourages students to attend the authors' forum, which has activities lasting until 6 p.m. Thursday.

"It's an excellent opportunity to get one-on-one with the authors. That just never happens. I highly encourage students to ask questions and make the authors put their money where their mouth is," Nardone said.

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