New ICView Site

Back issues

About us

Contact us


Giving to


Ithaca College Home

Curricular Innovation

Pieces of Pi

Sheryl D. Sinkow
Azar Nafisi with students during her campus visit

First-year students got their first assignment—to read Life of Pi by Yann Martel—long before the start of classes, courtesy of the First-Year Reading Initiative. This is the fourth year of the program, which encourages incoming students to read a shared work of literature that they discuss in small-group sessions with volunteer faculty and staff facilitators once they get to campus.

Life of Pi tells the story of 16-year-old Pi Patel, who finds himself stranded in a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with only a menacing 450-pound Bengal tiger for company. The book, which won the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, explores classic themes of faith and truth, fact and fiction, human versus nature, and innocence and experience.

Past initiatives have focused on The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber, and The Color of Water by James McBride.

Azar Nafisi, acclaimed author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, was the kickoff speaker for the first year reading initiative. She spoke about the transformative power of the literary imagination, a topic in keeping with Life of Pi and with the program’s theme, “Crossing Boundaries.”

previous page:
"IC Hope" against Cancer
next page:
Woman of the Year