Cultures in Crisis: Circumstances and Cultures

The primary purpose of the Indiana University Southeast Common Experience Program is to develop a common dialogue among students, faculty, staff, and members of the local communities. The theme or dialogue for 2017-18 is “Cultures in Crisis: Circumstances and Choices.” J.D. Vance, the author of our common reading Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, states that the Appalachian working class families and their culture are in a state of crisis. There are major problems including rampant drug abuse, alcoholism, unemployment and the lack of “good-paying” jobs, poverty, a sense of helplessness, and vanishing communities. What has caused these problems? The failure to take personal responsibility? The failure of government, economic, and social institutions? Structural unemployment? The end of coal as a long-term energy source? Join us this year as we investigate a culture in crisis.

There are many ways to participate in the Common Experience. One may attend some or all of our numerous programs and events scheduled over the course of the academic year. These programs are designed to allow you to focus on the importance of decisions that you make in your life. One may also read our common reading Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance and engage in book discussions in either the fall or spring semesters. Students can register in almost 40 courses that have assigned the common reading as part of the class. Faculty members, staff members, and members of the community are invited and encouraged to purchase the book, read it, and participate in one of the book discussions. All are welcome and encouraged to come and participate in our on-going dialogue “Cultures in Crisis: Circumstances and Choices.”