Skip to main content Skip to main content

1 Book/1 Project/2 Transform aims to save the planet

Faculty are encouraged to integrate “We Rise: The Earth Guardians Guide to Building a Movement that Restores the Planet” into fall courses.

By Cora Zaletel

April 8, 2019

Cover of book We Rise The Earth Guardians Guide to Building a Movement that ResThis fall, the Metropolitan State University of Denver community will focus its attention on saving our planet as part of the 10-year celebration of 1 Book/1 Project/2 Transform, an annual series that brings MSU Denver together to read a common book.

Faculty are encouraged to sign up to incorporate Xiuhtezcatl Martinez’s book, “We Rise: The Earth Guardians Guide to Building a Movement that Restores the Planet,” into their courses for the fall semester. This year’s book was selected in part because of feedback by faculty to search for a science-related theme. 

Author Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 18, is an indigenous environmental activist, hip-hop artist and youth director of Earth Guardians, a worldwide conservation organization. He has traveled the world educating his generation about the state of the planet they are inheriting and inspiring youth into action to protect the planet. Locally, he has worked to get pesticides out of parks, coal ash contained and moratoriums on fracking enacted in Colorado. He is one of the lead plaintiffs in a youth-led lawsuit against the federal government for its failure to protect the atmosphere for future generations.

Activities associated with the book selection will include an author lecture and musical performance Oct. 16-17 as well as a film and related community-service projects. Hip-hop dance and spoken-word presentation contests will be held early in the fall semester, with the winners of each serving as the opening acts for Martinez’s Oct. 17 concert. In addition, 10 facilitated book discussions will be scheduled from August through October from 12:30-1:45 p.m.

Psychology Professor Randi Smith, chair of 1 Book/1 Project/2 Transform, said the exciting thing about this year’s author is that he’s young, close in proximity (Boulder) and a hip-hop artist, which will be attractive to the student population. A seven-minute film about the author, “Kid Warrior,” will appear on the website, which allows faculty to request the book for review.

Smith said this year’s book will relate to a wide variety of disciplines, including environmental science, political science and the performing arts, as well as Native American and Chicana/o Studies programs. Chicana/o Studies faculty members Chalane Lechuga and Adriana Nieto will co-author this year’s Reading and Learning Guide.

The fall 2018 1 Book, “The Sun Does Shine,” detailed Anthony Ray Hinton’s inspiring account of his conviction for a crime he did not commit. The 2018 schedule included book discussions, an essay contest, panel discussions, lunch-and-learns and a service project. Several faculty members who incorporated the book into their courses shared their experiences to encourage other faculty to do the same.

Kathryn Young, associate professor of teacher education, has incorporated 1 Book into her classes for the past four years. “The Sun Does Shine” was part of her Education (in) Equality class as an auxiliary text to support the course’s other readings, videos and audio selections. Because she teaches a diversity class, she can typically find some type of link to the book that is selected. When the connection isn’t there, she often allows students to read the book as a group option.

“Most students found the book to be moving and insightful, and one even changed his mind about capital punishment,” she said. “I always want to make people care about inequities, feel inequities, and the text did that. I even had students tell me that they hated reading but loved reading this book.”

Discussions about the book occurred monthly, but students reflected on the text in weekly writing assignments. She used the study guide included with the book for ideas about how to incorporate the book into course content.

“I love the shared read at MSU Denver and that the author is brought to campus to talk about the book,” Young said. “I adopt the book every year into any class that might relate even tangentially to the topic, as students gain so much from reading the shared read and seeing the author in person.”

Topics: Academics, Events

Edit this page