This summer, the entire School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) community is being asked to engage in a collective reading and continuous dialogue focused around the book Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions by Valeria Luiselli.
The School-wide reading is tied to the School’s “One Book, One SP2” initiative. Now in its second year, the endeavor is intended to foster a stronger sense of unity and reinforce antiracism efforts and cultural humility throughout School.
Tell Me How It Ends compassionately and poignantly sheds light on the experiences of undocumented youth from Central America who face possible deportation. Tell Me How It Ends has micro, mezzo, and macro level implications for issues of inclusion, diversity, and social justice.
The book selection was recently announced by SP2’s Advisory Committee on Race and Social Justice after a selection process that included input from alumni, students, faculty, and staff members at the School.
Through an evaluation survey that was conducted by the Committee, the SP2 community submitted nearly 200 responses that specified reasons for selecting the nominated books and suggestions for ways they could be integrated in course work and school events throughout the next academic year.
All book nominations were to focus on a contemporary social issue, be relevant and accessible to people each of SP2’s five graduate degree programs, written by a person of color, and needed to be centered on race and racism.
The advisory committee also recommended There There by Tommy Orange as an optional second book, in an effort to promote increased understanding of indigenous populations and their connection to Philadelphia and the United States more broadly.
According to Associate Dean for Inclusion Jerri Bourjolly, MSW, PhD, SP2 obtained additional resources in June to implement the initiative via Penn’s Excellence Through Diversity Fund (ETDF). The Fund provides resources for innovative interdisciplinary projects of Penn faculty on topics relating to diversity and inclusion. Bourjolly says that the ETDF will also be used to provide a stipend for an inaugural Race and Social Change Student Fellow from SP2 to assist with designing and implementing the One Book activities and discussions that will take place throughout the next year.
The One Book, One SP2 initiative is part of a larger set of recommendations and an action plan for SP2’s vision of promoting social justice. It is aligned with Penn’s Compact 2022 “which motivates community members to innovate, be radically inclusive, and positively impact their local, national, and global communities.”
“The One Book this year, Tell Me How It Ends, will spearhead our collective discussions this year on issues of inclusion. Our goal is to bring members of the SP2 community together in small group discussions to examine the themes and lessons from the book,” Bourjolly said. “It is hoped that we consider how inclusion is promoted or inhibited in our practices and policies as well as what strategies should be considered and implemented to effectively promote this human right. We would like everyone to read the book to be able to engage in these school-wide discussions throughout the year.”