Common Experience

An annual program designed to cultivate a common intellectual conversation across campus, to strengthen the sense of community at Southeast and in the region, to encourage open discussion, civil discourse, and critical thinking, and to enhance the reputation of Southeast as a regional center of learning excellence.

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The common reading is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (2003). The book has been adapted to the stage by Simon Stephens and Marianne Elliott and will soon be a major film. It has been used in first year reading programs at Seton Hall, the University of South Carolina, California State Northridge, University of California San Diego, Providence College, the University of Toledo, Hiram College, Millersville University, Northern Arizona, the University of Houston, and others…

Overview of the book

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. Routine, order and predictability shelter him from the messy, wider world. Then, at fifteen, Christopher’s carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing. Christopher decides that he will track down the real killer and turns to his favorite fictional character, the impeccably logical Sherlock Holmes, for inspiration. But the investigation leads him down some unexpected paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. As he tries to deal with the crisis within his own family, we are drawn into the workings of Christopher’s mind. And herein lies the key to the brilliance of Mark Haddon’s choice of narrator: The most wrenching of emotional moments are chronicled by a boy who cannot fathom emotion. The effect is dazzling, making for a novel that is deeply funny, poignant, and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing is a mind that perceives the world literally. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one of the freshest debuts in years: a comedy, a heartbreaker, a mystery story, a novel of exceptional literary merit that is great fun to read. (Barnes and Noble)


The book has been awarded the Whitebread Awards for Best Novel and Book of the Year and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Fiction Book.

Schedule of Events


Empathy in Education: Designing Courses that Meet the Needs of Diverse Learners

Tue., August 19, 2014 
University Center 127, 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Introduction to Autism

Fall Semester, Thursdays 
Hillside Hall 202, 6 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.


Do You Really Know Me?

Tue., September 9, 2014 
Meadow Lodge, 12 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Understanding Autism

Tue., September 16, 2014 
3rd floor of the IU Southeast Library, 12:20 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Common Experience Movie Night – Temple Grandin

Thu., September 18, 2014 
Ogle Center Recital Hall, 7:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

Book Discussion of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon (2003)

Mon., September 22, 2014 
New Albany Floyd County Public Library Auditorium, 12 p.m. - 1 p.m.


A Humanitarian Welcome: Understanding Refugee Settlement in America

Tue., October 7, 2014 
3rd floor of the IU Southeast Library, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Empathy and Learning about Peoples of the World: A Discussion by IU Southeast Study Abroad Students

Wed., October 15, 2014 
University Center 127, 12:20 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Common Experience Movie Night – Freak the Mighty

Wed., October 22, 2014 
University Center 127, 7:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

Empathy for Animals:  Reaching out for Animal Welfare

Mon., October 27, 2014 
University Center 127, 4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.


I Know How You Feel: Having Empathy for and Sharing the Right Words with Others

Wed., November 5, 2014 
3rd floor of the IU Southeast Library, 12:20 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.
Autism is a World Discussion
Mon., November 10, 2014 
New Albany Floyd County Library Auditorium, 6:30 p.m.

Discussion of the Common Experience book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon (2003)

Tue., November 18, 2014 
3rd Floor of the IU Southeast Library, 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

25th Annual Model United Nations Security Council Conference for High School Students

Thursday (5 p.m. to 9 p.m.) November 20 and Friday (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.), November 21, 2014 
University Center (all rooms including the Hoosier Rooms)



Balancing Empathy and High Expectations for K-12 Students Who are Challenged

Thu., January 22, 2015 
3rd floor of the IU Southeast Library, 12 p.m. - 1 p.m.
Forgiving Dr. Mengele
Wed., January 28, 2015 
Steifler Recital Hall, Ogle Center, 7:30 p.m.


Understanding the Holocaust
Wed., February 4, 2015 
Hoosier Room, 6:00 p.m.
The Holocaust and the Power of Forgiveness
Tue., February 10, 2015 
Stem Auditorium, Ogle Center, 6:00 p.m.

Common Experience Movie Night – Murderball

Thu., February 12, 2015 
University Center 127, 7:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.


Giving a Woop: Helping Yourself in Helping Others

Thu., March 5, 2015 
3rd floor of the IU Southeast Library, 12:20 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.

A Visit to the American Printing House for the Blind

Fri., March 6, 2015 
Leave IU Southeast at 9 a.m.

Understanding Autism

Thu., March 12, 2015 
Jeffersonville Township Public Library, 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.


Jeffersonville Friday Book Club Discussion of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon (2003)

Fri., April 10, 2015 
Jeffersonville Township Public Library, 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.