As part of the Common Experience, the University provides all incoming first-year students with an inspiring book related to the year's theme that can challenge preconceived notions. Students will engage in dialogue with the Common Reading book and explore the theme in University Seminar (US 1100) classes and other courses — encouraging multiple, sustained conversations throughout the year.
While many approaches may be tailored specifically for first-year students, most events are intended for all students. Our Common Experience is a platform for students to be influencers in the Texas State and San Marcos communities. We encourage student-created, student-led, and student-facilitated events with Texas State faculty and staff support.
Our theme for 2022-2023 is Systems Thinking. Students are made of, surrounded by, and embedded in systems from the moment they enter the world. When they attend Texas State University, they choose to insert themselves into one of the most impactful systems of their lives — one that will allow them to change the world. The Common Experience theme will provide a way for students to live and recognize those systems and understand and change them. When you understand a system, you can better navigate it. When you can navigate a system, you can advocate for change.
We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives - where we go to school, whether we get a loan, how much we pay for insurance - are being made not by humans but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated.
And yet, as Cathy O'Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. Today's models are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination. Tracing a person's life arc, O'Neil exposes the black box models that shape our future as individuals and as a society. These "weapons of math destruction" score teachers and students, sort CVs, grant or deny loans, evaluate workers, target voters, and monitor our health.
O'Neil calls on modelers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policymakers to regulate their use. But in the end, it's up to us to become savvier about the models that govern our lives. This important book empowers us to ask tough questions, uncover the truth, and demand change.
Peer Mentoring is crucial in facilitating a successful First Year Experience for incoming Texas State students. Peer Mentors are paired with a select Texas State University Seminar class (US1100) and work closely with US1100 Instructors to achieve the goals of the PACE Center, University Seminar, and University College. Each mentor serves as a role model and will introduce students to the university’s learning campus community, creating a safe and welcoming transition to life as a Bobcat! For more information on applying, visit the PACE site.