The Summer Reading Project

The Summer Reading Project initiative is designed for first-year students with the following goals in mind:

Finding Your Element

  • To create a common reading and learning experience for you to share with fellow Pitt-Johnstown students
  • To introduce you to the academic expectations of our institution
  • To help you develop critical thinking skills to apply to important topical issues
  • To encourage scholarly discourse and participation in discussions and activities related to the book’s themes

What’s In It for Me?

  • You are now a college student. It is essential you make a successful transition into the academic life of a Pitt-Johnstown student. One component to being a successful student is that you read your assignments, and this is your first reading assignment. Start to practice productive academic habits now.
  • The Element is part of the curriculum of University Scholarship, the required one-credit transition course. Most of the course’s assignments are connected with The Element’s content.
  • Your first year of college is a transformative time. Cultivating your own element will prompt you to make productive personal, academic and career decisions. Through University Scholarship, you will participate in a number of activities and experiences structured to guide you through this process. You will be prompted to think critically about various ideas including:
    • How can you go about discovering and cultivating your aptitudes and passions?
    • How do we define intelligence, and how are you intelligent?
    • How can you use your strengths to improve your skills as a learner within the college environment?
    • How can you be true to your own element and thrive within various cultures and communities?

The Summer Reading Selection is:

The Element by Sir Ken Robinson, PhD

The author's website offers this description of The Element :

"The Element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the element, they feel most themselves and most inspired to achieve at their highest levels. The Element draws on the stories of a wide range of people, from ex-Beatle Paul McCartney to Matt Groening, creator of The Simpson’s; from Meg Ryan to Gillian Lynne, who choreographed the Broadway productions of Cats and The Phantom of the Opera; and from writer Arianna Huffington to renowned physicist Richard Feynman and others, including business leaders and athletes. It explores the components of this new paradigm: The diversity of intelligence, the power of imagination and creativity, and the importance of commitment to our own capabilities.

"With a wry sense of humor, Ken Robinson looks at the conditions that enable us to find ourselves in the element and those that stifle that possibility. The Element shows the vital need to enhance creativity and innovation by thinking differently about human resources and imagination. It is also an essential strategy for transforming education, business, and communities to meet the challenges of living and succeeding in the twenty-first century."

The Element is available at Pitt-Johnstown’s bookstore, located in the Student Union.