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PPE Reading Groups in CAS News!

We’re pleased to share that the PPE Program’s signature Undergraduate Reading Groups have been featured on the CAS home page! Excerpt below.

The PPE Reading Groups spend a semester reading and talking about an important PPE book with a group of smart students and a discussion leader. The groups are open to active UNC students, who meet for eight (8) weeks, ending early enough that they won’t conflict with the end of the semester crunch. The PPE Program provides copies of the books to all participants, dinners at Gourmet Kingdom, and an engaging group leader. All meetings take place at 6:00pm on weeknights by default, but starting times may vary from group to group.

Discussing big ideas around the table

PPE reading group leader and graduate student Will Kanwischer (kneeling, front row), with, from left, Andrew Schuler, Christopher Westcott, Willow Yang, Liam Cuppett, Luming Jia, Zach Kingery, Matseoi Zau and Micah Mangot at Gourmet Kingdom. (photo by Donn Young)

Undergraduate student reading groups, hosted by the Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program, meet weekly to discuss challenging topics over noodles and dumplings.

It is the third time junior Zach Kingery has joined a Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) Program reading group.

The reading groups are hosted by the popular PPE minor, which is based in the philosophy department in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences. Each semester, students sign up to read a book and participate in weekly discussion groups led by a faculty member or graduate student. Conversation flows as the groups sit around tables and pass steaming plates of Szechuan food, family style, at Carrboro’s Gourmet Kingdom. Participants receive no academic credit, yet signups fill up so quickly that there are usually waiting lists. Each semester, four groups meet for eight weeks, with 10 to 12 students per group.

PPE celebrated the 10th year of the reading groups, designed to appeal to students of all majors, last fall.

Kingery joined a reading group during his first year at Carolina, then again his sophomore year. This spring he is reading Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson. His group is led by Will Kanwischer, a graduate teaching fellow in philosophy.

“The discussions are really great,” said Kingery, who is a geography and environment major. “It is different than a class — people are more open and talkative.”

Kingery said he has enjoyed building the debate skills he first learned in high school, but more importantly, he is cultivating the practice of active listening.

“These groups are helping me to not just listen to someone in anticipation of asking the next question, but to listen to gain something from another perspective, to understand what another person is saying,” he said. “This cross-applicable skill of learning about other people’s ideas seems like the most valuable skill in the world right now.”

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