Through the Summer Reading Program, the Class of 2026 and other Meredith community members explored one of the most pressing issues of our time: climate change.
Rather than a single book, this year’s Summer Reading featured a multimedia website that hosts a variety of resources about climate science and climate activism. A range of articles, podcasts, TED Talks, literary works, and fine/performing arts pieces appealed to the many ways students learn and take in information. Meredith’s site, Climate Conversations: Women on the Forefront, focused specifically on the efforts of women who are working to mitigate the detrimental effects of climate change.
“We are excited about offering stories and information about climate change in a variety of media formats,” said Chrissie Bumgardner, co-chair of the Summer Reading Program committee. “Students like to consume information in different ways – and each format provides a slightly different perspective, which offers a richer, more well-rounded view that will, in turn, enrich our conversations.”
Given the program’s focus, Bumgardner said the committee also liked the sustainability of using digital resources. And she noted that in researching potential materials for the website, committee members tried to look for stories that offered a hopeful perspective.
“We know students have been through a lot in the past few years, and climate change is such an overwhelming topic,” she said. “We thought it was important to counter some of that anxiety with positive stories of women who are working to bring about real change.”
Summer Reading discussion groups were held on September 19. Prior to the discussions, student advisors and discussion facilitators met and as part of that training, participants learned about the varied sustainability efforts taking place on Meredith’s campus. Such efforts include reusing water from the cooling tower for irrigation, composting by Belk Dining Hall, which also emphasizes local purchasing from BIPOC and women-owned farms and more, LEED-certified building practices in the Oaks Apartments and CHESS building, and much more. First-year students also took turns working in Meredith’s Dickson Foundation Community Garden as a tangible way of supporting sustainability on campus.
Additional activities related to the Summer Reading Program included succulent planting by the Library, a photography workshop sponsored by the Art Department, “Meatless Monday” offerings from Dining Services, and a speaker.