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Common Experience 2017-2018: The Search for Justice: Our Response to Crime in the 21st Century: Home

This guide contains resources relating to the 2017-2018 Common Experience Theme and also the Common Reading Book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.

About the Common Experience

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The Common Experience brings students together to read and engage with a powerful text, explore related themes in University Seminar classes, write responses and reactions to the text in writing courses, participate in related symposia with scholarly panels, hear renowned and respected speakers address the topic, see films related to the Common Experience theme, explore the experience by way of the fine arts, engage in informal discussions in residence halls and coffee shops, and extend the exploration via the avenues of their own choosing.'

- Common Experience website

Copyright Statement

Images of the book Just Mercy, its author Bryan Stevenson, and those taken from are used with special permission from Mr. Stevenson & Penguin Random House.

All other images belong to Texas State University or are licensed under a Creative Commons license via Wikimedia Commons.

Common Experience Reading Video: Introducing "Just Mercy" by Bryan Stevenson

This year's Common Reading book is Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. This guide will help you:


Learn about the text and the author

Locate copies of the text (in different formats) at Alkek Library

Learn about additional resources for further research on the text and this year's Common Experience theme

Be informed about related events and happenings related to the text and the Common Experience



Image provided by special permission of Penguin Random House

2017-2018 Common Experience Theme: The Search for Justice: Our Response to Crime in the 21st Century

The definition of “crime” is not simple or universally accepted, but it invariably entails violation of law.  One definition is that a crime or offense is an act harmful not only to some individual or individuals but also to a community, society, or the state.  How do Texans today decide what is a crime and how severely it should be punished?  How do media and depictions of crime and punishment affect our attitudes about justice, and how do social inequalities influence crime, victimization, and punishment?  

Recent questions about crimes often involve socially divisive issues: Is the death penalty a just punishment?  How far can we control hate groups or hate speech?  Should damaging a flag be a criminal act?  Should youth be tried as adults?  Are drug sentencing laws fair?  This year long theme will engage students in a thoughtful conversation about laws, crime, punishment, and justice that will have a lifetime impact.

Image of Walter McMillian taken from