One Book


One Book 2017 

2017 Selection:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By: Rebecca Skloot

"Beautifully crafted... Thanks to the author's narrative skills, it is a tale that one experiences rather than reads"

Common Intellectual Experiences are one of the ten high impact practices identified by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). What better way to launch a successful college career than by engaging in meaningful conversation about relevant topics!

"Seldom do you read a book that is science, social history, and a page turner" British Medical Journal

Excerpted from the book jacket:

Doctors took her cells without asking. Those cells never died. They launched a medical revolution and a multi-million-dollar industry. More than twenty years later, her children found out. Their lives would never be the same.

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells - taken without her knowledge in 1951 - became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta's cells have been bought and sold by billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can't afford health insurance. 


The 2018 Selection Committee

Excerpted from the Rebecca Skloot Website:

Rebecca Skloot is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  Her award winning science writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; Discover; and many other publications. She specializes in narrative science writing and has explored a wide range of topics, including goldfish surgery, tissue ownership rights, race and medicine, food politics, and packs of wild dogs in Manhattan. She has worked as a correspondent for WNYC's Radiolab and PBS's Nova ScienceNOW. She and her father, Floyd Skloot, co-edited The Best American Science Writing 2011. You can read a selection of Rebecca Skloot's magazine writing on the Article's page of this site.

Continue reading:


Reading Roundtable: A Peer-facilitated Book Discussion
September 20, 2017 4:30-6:00 in Blue Ridge

One Book Film Screening: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: University Center Theatre
View the movie trailer here

October 2 (Monday) show times - 12:00, 4:30, 6:30, 9:00 - open seating, no reservations - WCU
October 3 (Tuesday) show times- 8:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 4:30, 6:30, 9:00 - open seating, no reservations

Panel Discussion Series: A topic/theme-based Faculty-facilitated series.
October 5 (Thursday) 3:30-4:30 - Blue Ridge Conference Room A  
      Topic: Leadership
October 10 (Tuesday) 12:00-1:00 - Blue Ridge Conference Room A  
      Topic: Health Disparities & Cultural Humility
October 11 (Wednesday) 4:00-5:00 - Blue Ridge Conference  Room A 
      Topic: Science and Technology
October 25 (Wednesday) 4:00-5:00 - University Center Multipurpose Room
      Topic: Reading to Research

 One Book + One Look
August 21st-December 16
WCU Fine Arts Museum
See Attached Worksheet to schedule a tour 
The goal of this program is: to use major themes found in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks as interpretive lenses through which to consider artworks in the WCU Fine Art Musem exhibition, Return from Exile: Contemporary Southeastern Indian Art. Visits may be facilitated by a Museum staff member or conducted as a self-guided tour using the attached worksheet.

All programs and events are open to all campus and to public.




The mission of the One Book program is to engage first-year students, as well as the campus community, in a common intellectual experience that promotes critical thinking and interdisciplinary conversation.  This experience will allow participants to strengthen academic skills, create connections with peers, instructors, and community members, and relate universal themes to personal experience and identity.  The program seeks to reflect WCU’s core values and responsibilities as a regionally engaged university.

One Book committee members will serve as ambassadors who aid in integrating reading selection themes into course curricula, campus events, service learning opportunities, and departmental goals. The 2017 committee comprises individuals from across campus, ensuring that values and views of all academic units are considered and represented.

The One Book Experience Will:

  • Introduce clear expectations of academic performance and engagement
  • Create opportunities to reveal and explore notions of community
  • Reflect the University’s mission and core values
  • Integrate book themes into course curricula, particularly transition course curricula
  • Encourage interaction between peers, instructors, campus and local community members
  • Foster interdisciplinary discourse and partnership
  • Offer diverse perspectives and cultural exploration
  • Stimulate student self-discovery and personal development
  • Inspire participation and support from faculty and administrators by clearly conveying the book’s relevance to the academic experience and student enrichment.


Office of Web Services