Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

News - Michael Pollan Lecture Jan. 13

Jan. 7, 2010

CONTACT:  Beverly Makhani, Communications Director, WSU Undergraduate Education and University College, 509-335-6679,

WSU Welcomes “Omnivore’s Dilemma” Author Michael Pollan to Present Common Reading Lecture Jan. 13

PULLMAN, Wash. — Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” read by thousands of freshmen this academic year at Washington State University, will come to Pullman January 13 for a public lecture at 7 p.m. in Beasley Coliseum.

The topic for this Third Annual Common Reading Invited Lecture will be “The Sun Food Agenda.”  Pollan’s multimedia presentation touches on such topics as human dependency on fossil fuel, the climate crisis, and invoking change at the level of the farm, marketplace, and culture.

“We anticipate that this award-winning author will deliver many thought-provoking examples and ideas for WSU students, faculty, and the community to ponder, and we are looking forward to his campus visit with great enthusiasm,” says Mary F. Wack, vice provost for undergraduate education and head of the University College.

“The Omnivore’s Dilemma” was chosen by WSU’s Common Reading Program at Pullman as the common text for new students.  Thousands of copies of the “Omnivore’s Dilemma” were distributed to students, faculty, and staff in summer and fall to encourage academically centered critical thinking, communication, research, and learning around a body of shared information, which is the mission of the common reading.  The Common Reading Program is a program of the University College, along with many other units and programs that are geared toward the academic success and learning experiences of first-year students and all undergraduates. 

Pollan’s evening lecture is open to the public at no charge.  Seating in Beasley that evening is first-come first-served; special sections will be reserved for students.  Pollan’s presentation cannot be simulcast to other locations and cannot be recorded for rebroadcasting via any media format.  After visiting WSU, Pollan is slated speak at other venues in the state.

Pollan is the John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley.    He is a former executive editor of “Harper’s Magazine” and is a regular contributor to “The New York Times Magazine.”  He has authored five books; “Omnivore’s Dilemma” was named one of the best books of 2006 by “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post.”

Often criticized as well as lauded, it presents the author’s look at humans’ three food chains—industrial, organic or alternative, and hunted or gathered.   His story touches on agribusiness, economics, politics, and nature as he explores aspects of what humans eat.

As part of the Common Reading Program, students and faculty examine topics raised in the book through the lens of the particular course in which the book is used—from history to business management, and from human development to art.  The common reading will continue into spring semester, with monthly thematic programming.

The common reading lecture is possible thanks to a gift from WSU alumnus William D. Marler, a nationally known, Seattle-based personal injury lawyer who focuses on foodborne illnesses and food safety.

More information on the program and the author’s visit is available at


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