Stay Engaged with the Community Read

The fall session of Open University may be over, but you don’t have to miss the opportunities to learn and engage. The OU winter session begins January 18, (hang in there!) and in the meantime, we’re sharing an invitation we received from the University of Richmond to participate in the Community Read. All the details are below – read on and engage!

Community Read: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
November, 2020 – January, 2021 

What: You’re invited to participate in Community Read, a special event presented by the University of Richmond’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Gather, offering an opportunity to read one of the most important and compelling new books of 2020: Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste. As we continue to wrestle with our nation’s past and seek to build a more inclusive and just society, Wilkerson’s book asks us to consider our history in a broader way. While we’re reading the book (and to keep each other motivated) there will be several optional opportunities to engage with the book’s ideas and with others in three short Zoom chats in December and early January. Join for as many or as few as you’d like. In the second week of January, after everyone’s had a chance to complete the book, you can choose to join one of several facilitated small-group discussions about the book, giving everyone a chance to share their ideas with one another in an engaging, meaningful way. 

More About the Book: Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste explores, through layered analysis and stories of real people, the structure of an unspoken system of human ranking and reveals how our lives are still restricted by what divided us centuries ago. In exploring inequity and inclusion in America, she documents the parallels with two other hierarchies in history, those of India and of Nazi Germany, and no reader will be left without a greater understanding of the price we all pay in a society torn by artificial divisions. This is an immersive, deeply researched narrative, and Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, offers a masterful story of American history and culture that the New York Times called “an instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far.” 

Who Can Participate: Everyone is welcome! The Community Read is organized as a University of Richmond Osher special program, but it is open to the wider School of Professional and Continuing Studies community. You are welcome to invite friends and family to join our “community read.” All are welcome!

What Do I Need to Participate? Participation is free, and you can sign up here! The only thing you need to participate is to read (or listen to) the book, which may be ordered from Amazon or other online booksellers in both print and audiobook format read by the author. The book is also available at the Boatwright Memorial Library and other local libraries. Our University Bookstore has ordered copies, which may be purchased in person or online and shipped. Additionally, Fountain Bookstore, a locally owned and operated bookstore, will have copies available. 

About Isabel Wilkerson: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, Isabel Wilkerson has become a leading figure in narrative nonfiction, an interpreter of the human condition, and an impassioned voice for demonstrating how history can help us understand ourselves, our country, and our current era of upheaval. Through her writing, Wilkerson brings the invisible and the marginalized into the light and into our hearts. Through her lectures, she explores with authority the need to reconcile America’s karmic inheritance and the origins of both our divisions and our shared commonality.


November 21 (or sooner, if you wish!) – Start Reading!

December 7 – Zoom chat #1: Join with others as you’re reading to share your ideas and insights! (Focus on parts 1-2)

December 18 – Zoom chat #2: Join with others as you’re reading to share your ideas and insights! (Focus on parts 3-4)

January 6 – Zoom chat #3: Join with others as you’re reading to share your ideas and insights! (Focus on parts 5-6)

Week of January 11 – Sign up for one of several facilitated small group Zoom discussions, offered at different times over the course of the week.


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