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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.