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2013-2014 SFCC Theme - Of Living and Dying: Profit, Politics, and Power

"The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. "

          – Milton Friedman, American economist

Throughout the year, events such as debates, speakers, and films will ask us to consider how the power structures behind business and politics impact the processes of living and dying in such areas as health care, medical research, and euthanasia.

For more resources related to the college theme, visit the library’s Living and Dying page.

College-wide Theme Events


Guest Lecturer Our aim is to engage the campus community (faculty, staff, and students) in an extended, academic dialogue focused around one broad issue. Films, guest lecturers, panel discussions, teach-ins, Chautauqua, and artists help create rich learning opportunities for deepening the understanding of our theme.

In addition to educating our campus community, we wish to encourage community members from the greater Spokane region to attend, and in some cases participate, in all the events that will be publicized through a variety of venues throughout the year.

Why a Theme?

  • Because learning has been found to be more successful in cross-disciplinary situations, we hope to increase student learning by providing a central focus for year-long activities (films, speakers, artists, plays) that incorporate as many of the departments on campus as possible.
  • Because learning has been found to be more successful when it incorporates discussion, we hope to create a college-wide discussion on current events and their implications for us as Americans and human beings by facilitating a series of events related to a broad theme. We also plan to use the theme to select a Common Reader to add a classroom basis to the theme.
  • Because learning has been found to be more successful when it engages students’ interest, we hope to facilitate a series of student-oriented events through the Associated Student and Instructionally Related Program clubs throughout the year - events created by and for students.
  • Because student retention has been found to increase when students make a commitment to campus, we hope that the integration of classroom learning, the Common Reader, club participation, and college-wide theme events will encourage students to become involved in the campus community and bring them closer to graduation.


Our aim is to engage the campus community in an extended, academic dialogue focused around one broad issue each year. Films, lectures, discussions, debates, and artist presentations will help deepen our understanding of our theme.

What is the Common Reading Program?

The Common Reading Program is a way of creating a common experience for SFCC students and promoting discussion across disciplines around important historical and current issues.

How is the Common Reading Program Text Chosen?

We choose a text that students will find engaging and accessible, that engages a timely or thought-provoking issue, and that applies to a wide variety of courses, programs, and disciplines.

What other activities support the Common Reading Program?

Once the text is selected, we choose our college theme for the year. This theme helps guide our programming of co-curricular events—debates, lectures, films and discussions, college service-learning projects, and other events — which expand and deepen our understanding of both the theme and the text.

What is this year's book?

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks cover and Rebecca Skloot
"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," by science writer Rebecca Skloot

Skloot tells the story of poor black tobacco farmer Henrietta, whose cells, taken without her knowledge or permission, have become key to modern medicine and genetics.

Henrietta’s story will frame our discussion of this year's theme—Of Living and Dying: Profit, Politics, and Power—as we delve into the worlds of medical research and health care, and the politics and economics that power these worlds.

For more resources related to the common reader, visit the library's Henrietta Lacks page.


Student Showcase - Overview

In keeping with the 2002-2003 Theme, "Responsibility", faculty and advisors throughout the college engaged students in activities and assignments designed to promote better understanding and encourage action on local, national, and global levels.

This Student Showcase section highlights a few of those activities in Art, Writing, and Drama.

Asian Self-Portraits

Art 188 Acrylic Painting, Megan Martens

Students chose a portrait from an Asian culture and morphed their own features into the features of the portrait's subject. This blend of western and eastern stylistic traits and technique teaches us about world cultures and our interconnectedness.

Asian Self-Portrait   
Title Asian Self-Portrait
Artist Michael Caseria
Date March 2003
Title Asian Self-Portrait
Artist Janelle Jackson
Date March 2003
   Asian Self-Portrait
Title Untitled
Artist David Egglestan
Date March 2003
Persian Princess   
Title Persian Princess
Artist Vicky Re
Date March 2003
Title The Warrior
Artist Dustin Lipsker
Date March 2003
   The Warrior
Title Goddess Being Taken Away by Phoenix
Artist Bree Wear
Date March 2003
   Goddess Being Taken Away by Phoenix

English 101, Connie Wasem

To read the complete essay, click on the link in the text next to the author information.

Students tell stories of "educational" experiences that have liberated them, sometimes literally.

Title Who is the Real Enemy?
Author Kristen Guzman
   Have you ever had one of those conversations that at the moment does not seem all that important, but as you look back had become a huge turning point in your life? I have always had a curiosity about World War II and was given the opportunity to experience a little of it first hand by living in Germany for three years. Many people have not had the chance to learn what living through WWII was like for the people in Europe. I had the privilege of speaking with someone who lived through the war. This conversation began so simply, but forever changed the way I think and feel about World War II. I need to share this story in hope that it will affect others in the same way.

Title Tierra Nueva
Author Robert James
   “Alien... This is so alien to me.” was the first thought I had when I stepped off the 737 airliner that had brought me to Honduras. Along with the airliner, I was leaving the American world of clean running water, and readily available modern medicine that I knew so well, behind me. I stepped into some of the thickest, hottest and moist air I had ever felt. More rather, the muggy, invisible fog stepped onto me. This was all due to me having the privilege of accompanying my dad on his semi-annual trip to Honduras where he offers medical aid for free to those in need. This experience liberated me of my ignorance and opened my eyes to how most Americans are very uninformed and isolated from the rest of the world; they don’t look at the fact that there is starvation and poverty and that almost nobody is doing anything about it.

Title Point Shoes and Peanut Butter
Author Phoebe Jones
   The smell of rosin, sweat, floor polish and dust creates a warm and all most intoxicating aroma that will always remind a dancer of a poorly ventilated ballroom in which they spent countless hours dancing in front of tall mirrors, trying to achieve perfection whether it be for performance or their own personal satisfaction. You learn to fight for perfection and never to give in to pain. You must push your self farther and farther each time until you can perform each and every element flawlessly with a quiet smile upon your face. This may appear to be more of a lesson in torture than liberation, but I can assure you that for me there was no greater lesson for me to learn than those acquired on a dance floor covered with peanut butter residue.

William Shakespeare's "Macbeth"

Winter quarter's drama production of Macbeth is a grim reminder for us that education can be just as enslaving as it is liberating.

Photo from Play

The witches' warning "Fair is foul and foul is fair" reminds us that not everything is as it seems.

Photo from Play
  Photo from Play

The witches' instruction to Macbeth as to his future kingship, though accurate, was misleading and incomplete. This education perverted Macbeth's actions and led to his downfall.

Photo from Play

If we are to guard against committing the same sins as Macbeth, we must seek the full truth at all times.

Do you have...

  • comments about our program?
  • an experience to share from a theme activity?
  • a suggestion for next year?
  • ideas for theme activities?
  • a topic for next year's theme?


Heather Keast
(509) 533-3698