UAA/APU Books of the Year: Discussions Focusing on Money and Morality

Money and Morality: UAA, APU and Loussac Library engage the topic with two books and a host of public events

Wall Street salaries. The housing bubble. Decline of the middle class.

We live in interesting financial times, and a local reading program hopes to engage Alaskans in examining where we’ve been and where we’re going with the UAA/APU Books of the Year.

The theme for 2011-13 is Money and Morality, and the two books are Michael Lewis’ The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine and  David Shipler’s The Working Poor: Invisible in America. Readers Guides to both books, one-page downloadable PDFs, are available at the Books of the Year website.

Together these books capture people in the economic extremes of our society – the rich and the poor. In America, where “everything has its price,” money and morality define our incomes, lifestyles, and personal responsibilities. These Books of the Year help us understand our assumptions, and the role money plays in the decisions each of us make.

Books of the Year plans a variety of free public programs to engage readers in discussions prompted by both books.

Panel Discussion
On Thursday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. in the UAA/APU Consortium Library, a panel of experts will tackle the topic of “Challenges for Affordable Childcare for the Working Poor in Alaska.” Bonny Headley of UAA Early Childhood Education faculty, will moderate the panel, including:

• Stephanie Berglund, CEO of Thread
• Samantha Farmer, UAA student and parent
• Connie Wirz, Executive Director of Cook Inlet Native Head Start
• Virgene Hanna, UAA Institute of Social and Economic Research

Public Salon Conversation Series
Another aspect of public engagement for Books of the Year is a series of free public discussions facilitated by UAA faculty in partnership with Loussac Library. Called The Working Poor, Conversation Salon Series, they will be held living-room style in the Ann Stevens Room at Loussac Library on the third Tuesday of the month through May, 2012.

The salon dates and topics are:
• Oct. 18: Measuring Inequality, with sociologist Nelta Edwards

Here are four questions to help spur community discussion before the event:

1.  What are the ways of measuring inequality?
2.  How has inequality changed over time in the United States?
3.  How does the U.S. compare to other countries on inequality?
4.  What is the poverty threshold?

• Nov. 15: Raising Families and the Working Poor, with Judith Owens-Manley
• Jan. 17: Criminalizing the Working Poor, with justice professor Sharon Chamard
• Feb. 21: Healthcare Challenges for the Working Poor, with nursing professor Cathy Sullivan
• March 20: The Working Poor: Older Adults and Their Families, with sociologist and expert on aging Ann Jache
• April 17: The Working Poor and the Media, with journalism professor Paola Banchero
• May 16: Hunger and the Working Poor, with professor of social work, Tracey Burke

A poster of the salon series (PDF) is available on the Loussac Library website.

Find out more about the books at the UAA/APU Books of the Year website.

For information about the salon conversation series, call Nancy Clark at Loussac Library, (907) 343-2972.