STWing reading project

The University’s oldest living-learning program has taken a page from the successful Penn Reading Project as part of an effort to strengthen the sense of community among its far-flung members.

Incoming freshmen in the Science and Technology Wing (STWing) program this year are reading “Starship Troopers,” Robert A. Heinlein’s late-1950s science-fiction classic tale of intergalactic battle that poses questions about the obligations of a citizen and the organization of society while satirizing Cold War paranoia.

Project organizer William Altman (EAS’00) explained, “We tried to get a book that would give everyone something in common and that would satisfy most people while keeping within the [program] theme of STWing.”

As with its campus-wide big brother, the STWing reading project involves the incoming class in discussion groups with members of the faculty and in other activities based on the selected book. In the case of “Starship Troopers,” the other activity will be an Oct. 15 screening of the 1997 movie based on the book.

Extremely loosely based, said Altman. “Some of the organizers voted for this book because we can show the movie and see how much of a mockery Hollywood makes of books.”

Project organizers are recruiting faculty members to lead the discussions, which will take place during the first two weeks of October.

The project -- which Altman stressed is supplemental to the larger Penn Reading Project -- is one attempt to link STWing freshmen, based in Kings Court/English College House, and upperclassmen in the program, who live in a number of different locations, including a group in Harrison College House and several who live off campus.

The reading project elaborates on an existing STWing mentoring program that pairs each first-year student with an academic mentor, who helps with questions about majors and requirements, and a social mentor, who has similar recreational and social interests. Mentors are being encouraged to read “Starship Troopers” as well.

“Our goal is to build a sense of camraderie among STWing members -- to give the freshmen something to share and to give the upperclassmen something to share,” Altman said.

Approximately 50 freshmen are in this year’s STWing entering class.

Front page for this issue | Pennsylvania Current home page

Originally published on September 30, 1999