Beginning in 2005, UAB has selected an annual UAB Discussion Book as one focal point for uniting the students, faculty, and staff of this research extensive campus. The Discussion Book always has literary merit, raises complex ethical questions, is relevant to contemporary social issues, and broadens the reader's understanding of diversity in a meaningful way. It also serves as a means to introduce entering freshmen to the concept of difficult dialogues and institutional expectations.
Students are able to purchase the book at cost at the Barnes & Nobles UAB Bookstore during New Student Orientation. The day before fall classes begin, President Garrison welcomes all new students into the UAB family as a prelude to students participating in small group discussions facilitated by the President, Provost, deans, chairs, faculty, and staff of UAB. The 2008-09 UAB Discussion Book is Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change by Elizabeth Kolbert.
The UAB Discussion Book is the focus for on-campus and off-campus events through the coming year. Developed as part of UAB's Quality Enhancement Plan, the UAB Discussion Book project promotes civic involvement, respectful dialogue about often controversial issues, and more knowledgeable participation in a global society.