New students talk global poverty in On the Same Page

Being a new student can be nerve-wracking, but UC Berkeley’s On the Same Page program gives all incoming students something to talk about. In its 10th year, On the Same Page offers a free copy of the same book to new undergraduates — freshmen and transfers — as a way of welcoming them into the campus’s intellectual community.

This year, faculty chose a handful of books to be reviewed by a team of students who provided feedback to deans in the College of Letters and Science, who selected Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. 

In this video, student reviewers talk about why it’s so important for the campus community to read the nonfiction novel. “It’s a conversation about justice,” says one student. “It’s a conversation about poverty. And it’s all happening right here at Berkeley.”

behind the beautiful forevers coverBeyond the Beautiful Forevers addresses global change and inequality through the stories of families living in a makeshift settlement near the Mumbai airport. Alix Schwartz, director of academic planning in the College of Letters and Science, says the book “puts a face on a social issue,” and engages a range of disciplines on the campus, including city planning, religious studies, global poverty and practice, sociology, political science and humanities.

This fall, On the Same Page offers many opportunities for the campus and public to learn more about Beyond the Beautiful Forevers and the global issues it addresses.

  • Katherine Boo will deliver the program’s keynote lecture on Sept. 24 called “The Hidden Human Costs of Global Inequality: An Ethical and Economical Inquiry from the Mumbai Slums.”
  • Boo will take part in a panel discussion on Sept. 25, joining three faculty from UC Berkeley — Jason Corburn, a professor of city and regional planning; Tapan Parikh, an associate professor with the I School; and Isha Ray, an associate professor with the Energy and Resources Group — who will speak on effective solutions to combat poverty.
  • On Oct. 1, anthropology professor Lawrence Cohen will moderate a panel discussion about how poverty is defined, represented, and the political and psychological uses of these representations.
  • On Oct. 30, geography professor Michael Watts will moderate a discussion with experts from UC Berkeley and other campuses about poverty in the mega-cities of the global south.

All events are free and open to the public, and seating is first-come, first-served. For details and updates on event times and locations, visit the program’s events page.

To learn more about the College of Letters and Science’s On the Same Page program, visit its website.