Show More

Reading Groups

Each semester, The Prindle Institute offers reading groups to spark discussion about various topics related to ethics. Faculty, staff, students, and community members meet several times throughout the semester to discuss the themes and ideas presented in each book.

To join a reading group, please contact Christiane Wisehart.

For guidelines on creating your own reading group, click here.

Fall 2014 Reading Groups

Make It Stick by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel

Discussion led by Michael Roberts

Meets at 7 PM on September 4, September 18, October 2, and October 16

Learning is essential and life-long. Yet as these authors argue convincingly, people often use exactly the wrong strategies and don’t  appreciate the ones that work. We’ve learned a lot in the last decade about applying cognitive science to real-world learning, and this book combines everyday examples with clear explanations of the research. It’s easy to read—and should be easy to learn from, too! (Daniel L. Schacter, author of The Seven Sins of Memory)

This is a quite remarkable book. It describes important research findings with startling implications for how we can improve our own learning, teaching, and coaching. Even more, it shows us how more positive attitudes toward our own abilities – and the willingness to tackle the hard stuff – enables us to achieve our goals. The compelling stories bring the ideas out of the lab and into the real world. (Robert Bjork, UCLA)


The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus by Mitchell Thomashow

Discussion led by Rich Cameron on behalf of the Campus Sustainability Committee

Meets at 7:30 PM on September 16, October 7, November 4, and December 2

The Campus Sustainability Committee would like to invite faculty, staff, administrators, and students to deepen and expand our shared understanding of what we’re working for when we’re working toward a culture of sustainability on campus by offering a reading group on Mitchell Thomashow’s recent book, The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus.  Thomashow has recently retired as the President of Unity College and now consults with campuses regarding sustainability transitions.  His book offers a fairly comprehensive picture of different aspects of campus life and how they fit together to form a rich sustainability culture regarding energy, food, materials, governance, investment, wellness, curriculum, interpretation, and aesthetics.  If interest in the reading group is high enough, we hope to be able to invite Thomashow to campus at the end of the semester to both meet with the group and consult with faculty, staff, administrators, and students about sustainability on DePauw’s campus in the coming years.


Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Discussion led by Wes Kendall, pastor at Greencastle Presbyterian Church and John Rumple, pastor at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

Meets at 7:30 PM on September 15, September 29, and October 6

What does it look like to be a good neighbor in the age of Amazon, work commutes, and social media?  In a series of three conversations, Rev. John Rumple of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church & Rev. Wes Kendall of Greencastle Presbyterian Church will invite this reading group to explore what neighborliness means today.  Participants in this group will be invited to listen to a podcast from NPR’s This American Life, to interact with a short-story from Barbara Kingsolver’s Small Wonder, and to explore Walter Brueggemann’s book, Journey to the Common Good. In his book Brueggemann, one of the foremost Old Testament scholars, digs into the ancient stories of Israel to bring up relevant questions for our 21st century global world, including:  What does it look like to create healthy, just communities? All three resources are intended to help you consider the richness of the community that surrounds you while also considering what may be holding you or others from a deeper experience of community. The aim of the reading group will also be geared towards considering ways we can work for the common good of DePauw, Greencastle, and Putnam County.  


Antigone by Sophocles

Discussion led by Keith Nightenhelser

Meets at 7:30 PM on September 3, October 7, October 30, November 13, and December 11

Sophocles’ play Antigone, now almost 2600 years old, explores conflicts within a family and a community over religious, ethical, and political obligation.  Female is pitted against male, elder against younger, divine against human, individual against communal, an uncanny family curse against enlightened reason, and the sovereign against both religious authority and private life, all in the aftermath of a just-ended, fratricidal civil war.

Anticipating the DePauw Theater’s production of Antigone in April 2015, our student, staff, and faculty group will examine Sophocles’ play Antigone and its evolving interpretations in nine Thursday night meetings spread over the entire school year.  (Participants will be welcome to join in for just one of the two semesters if they wish.)  In the fall we’ll read Sophocles’ play and George Steiner’s 1984 book “Antigones” about “the interactions between a major text and its interpretations across time.”  In the spring we’ll read political philosopher Bonnie Honig’s 2013 book “Antigone, Interrupted,” a book that complements Steiner’s discussion of Antigone in the long reach of Western Civilization by critiquing the many new ideas about the play arising from literary and political theorists in the past forty years.   (Hegel’s interpretation will haunt both semesters.)  And there will be space for some readings to be determined by the interest of participants, too!


Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do by Claude M. Steele

Meets at 7:00 PM on October 13, November 5, November 17, and November 24

Steele’s book “offers a vivid first-person account of the research that supports his groundbreaking conclusions on stereotypes and identity. He sheds new light on American social phenomena from racial and gender gaps in test scores to the belief in the superior athletic prowess of black men, and lays out a plan for mitigating these “stereotype threats” and reshaping American identities” (Amazon). We will discuss the text and consider implications for our classrooms.