Common Reading Program

The Common Reading Program book for the Class of 2019 and transfer students entering in Fall 2015 is Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, by Eboo Patel.

PATEL-ActsFaithEboo Patel’s Acts of Faith has been chosen as the Common Reading Program book for Tufts undergraduates entering in Fall 2015. The book will be sent to all new first-year and transfer students to read, and the author will visit campus to lecture on Monday, September 21. Current students in all Tufts Schools as well as faculty, staff, and alumni are also encouraged to read the book and join in the conversation with the entering undergraduates on this year’s theme of religious and philosophical pluralism and interfaith cooperation. Read President Anthony P. Monaco’s letter to incoming undergraduates about the Common Reading Program.

The Common Reading Program is sponsored by the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate and Graduate Students, this year in partnership with the University Chaplaincy.

Get Involved:

For entering undergraduates and all interested students,staff, faculty, and alumni:

  • Check Your Mail – All incoming undergraduate students (Class of 2019 and transfer students) will receive a copy of the book, along with a letter from Tufts President Anthony Monaco mailed to your home address. Be on the lookout for your copy. Current students, staff, faculty, and alumni can request a copy by emailing Laura Doane at Copies are limited.
  • Where Are You This Summer? – Where are you this summer? Whether at home or far away, take a photo of yourself reading “Acts of Faith” and post it to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Include #TuftsCommonRead and you may see your photo on our website or social media!
  • Share Your Story  A campaign to promote openly discussing and learning about our religious and philosophical identities–more details coming soon.
  • Mark Your Calendars – Attend the Author Visit on Monday, September 21. Exact time (evening) and location TBD.
  • Essay Contest – Incoming students are encouraged to craft an essay based on the Common Reading Program book. View essay prompts and submission guidelines.
  • Attend Additional Programs – For related programming, visit
  • Want More? – Continue your summer reading with related texts.

Author Lecture with Eboo Patel

Monday, September 21
Time and Location TBD

Essay Contest

All entering undergraduates are invited to submit an essay answering one of the following questions about the Common Reading book Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation. Winning essays will be posted online and the selected writers will receive a gift card to the Tufts Bookstore.
Submission guidelines:

  • Essays must be 500-750 words in length.
  • The top of your submission should list your full name and email address.
  • Please put the full text of the question you are answering at the top of your essay.
  • The conclusion of your essay must include this statement:
    I affirm that the entirety of this essay is my original work. I agree that this submission may be posted on Tufts University websites, to be publicly viewable.

Essays must be submitted to by 5:00 pm on August 19, 2015.
Winners will be announced at the Illumination Ceremony during Orientation.

Choose one of the following topics for your essay. Be sure to tie your own personal reflections together with specific ideas from the text.

First-Year Experience
How did Eboo Patel’s college experience impact his activism around interfaith pluralism? What is your vision for activism and/or pluralism at Tufts?

Tufts Values
How do ideas of community, pluralism and action described in Acts of Faith relate to the core values of Tufts? Which of these ideas resonate with you and why?

Active Citizenship
A goal of Tisch College is to produce “committed community leaders who will take an active role in addressing the core problems of society throughout their lifetimes, whatever professions they may choose.” How does this goal relate to Acts of Faith? What core problems of society are you interested in addressing?

Tufts faculty and staff will evaluate your submission on the following criteria: engagement with the common reading text, content, organization, mechanics and voice. Read full evaluation rubric.

Eboo HeadshotAbout the Author

Eboo Patel was born in India, was raised and educated in Illinois, and eventually earned a Rhodes scholarship to pursue a doctorate at Oxford. This coming of age story tells of his quest to understand and integrate multiple and sometimes conflicting identities—as an Indian, a Muslim, and an American. From enduring racist bullying as a child in school, through adolescent antics to try to fit in, to grappling with the injustices of both of his homelands, India and America, Patel seeks to understand who he is and his calling in the world. His journey provides a framework for understanding geopolitical movements that shape all of our lives today–from terrorism of all kinds, to the long history of those of all faiths who have striven for justice and peace.

–The Reverend Greg McGonigle, university chaplain, University Chaplaincy

Sign Up for Our Newsletters

Click on the links below to join the Tisch College and University Chaplaincy contact lists and learn about our respective programs and opportunities for civic, spiritual, and educational engagement on the Tufts campus and beyond:

Goals of the Common Reading Program

  • Introduce incoming students to Tufts as an intellectual community
  • Provide a source of community-building for the entering class and transfer cohort
  • Explore together a timely topic connected to Tufts’ core values
  • Demonstrate interdisciplinary approaches to addressing social and political issues in society and the world
  • Encourage the use of critical thinking skills for engagement in civil dialogue

For More Information

Please contact Laura Doane, Associate Dean for Orientation and Student Transition, at or 617-627-4678.