Welcome to JBU!

Dear John Brown University student,


Congratulations on your decision to enroll at John Brown University!  In coming to JBU, you are joining a learning community where students learn not only from professors and books but from each other.  Moreover, professors are not simply dispensers of knowledge but fellow learners who continually explore new ideas and perspectives.


One important feature of a learning community is the discussion of good books.  Thus, your first step in joining the JBU community is the Summer Reading Program we call JBU Reads.   This year’s theme is “What is the Value of Suffering?”  Last fall, the JBU Reads committee asked students, faculty, and staff to recommend a book that best fits this theme.  We received many, many great books.  Here are the winners:  Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place; C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain; Jerry Sittser’s A Grace Disguised; Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country; Ron Hall and Denver Moore’s Same Kind of Different as Me; Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken; and Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead.


We expect that you will choose to read one of these books before you join us for Orientation Week in August.  To help you get the most out of this experience, we have created an introductory booklet.  In it, you will find the biography of each recommender, a brief plot synopsis, and an essay explaining why you should read that particular book.  We hope you choose the right book for you.  It is not required to purchase a book, so browse your local libraries or convince friends and family to read with you.  If you have access to a computer or an e-reader, you will be able to find a few of the books online or through Nook or Kindle.


During Orientation week, you and your peers will discuss these books and this year’s theme with a JBU professor and upper-level students.  At this meeting you will be expected to write a brief essay exploring the redemptive quality of the text you have chosen to read.  So, it is important that you read the book carefully and critically.  This academic exercise will count as your first grade for COR 1002:  Gateway Seminar in Christian Scholarship.


I hope you enjoy the book, and I look forward to meeting you in August.




Dr. Jacob Stratman

Associate Professor and Division Chair of Humanities and Social Sciences

Coordinator of JBU Reads