Between the World and Me
by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The New Student Seminar is a semester-long required course for all new undergraduates enrolled in the Steinhardt School. The seminar is your orientation to the university and our school and will introduce you to the nature of higher education and your program of study. Using the themes raised in the new student reading, you will explore your role as a member of our diverse, global, and inclusive academic community. This year we will be looking at how our histories and experiences have shaped our lives and will continue to shape our futures.
Framed as a letter to his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me explores the idea of race in America. Coates shares the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of vignettes that move the reader from the streets of Baltimore to Howard University, from Civil War battlefields to the cafes of Paris. In this first person narrative, Coates paints vivid portraits of the people who shaped his life during his coming of age journey from elementary student to public intellectual. He shows us how the harsh realities of American culture have made him the person he is today, and how the realities of the global world will shape the man his son will become one day.
The Theme: Finding Your Place in the World; Finding Home
Between the World and Me is about the experiences that mold our identities and shape our experiences in all the places we call home. It is also about discovering new ideas and perspectives that expand our understanding of the world around us and underscore our need to belong. Coates asks us to think about where we have come from to better understand the power that our individual differences can have in creating our identities. He argues that by analyzing cultural and historical context, we can understand and nurture a resistance to dehumanization, of feeling inferior.
Things To Consider
Each of us is a product of a particular context. We are influenced by culture, history, the beliefs we were brought up with, and character and values of the people who raised us. Each of us interprets and internalizes the messages of our culture and creates from them a sense of self-esteem and vision of who we are in the world and how the world sees us.
As a new student at NYU, you are part of a global network of students who have been raised in different cultures, among different people with different values. You come together this year with a common goal: to further your education and enlarge your sense of the world.
This year we ask you to consider your journey and to think about how your journey has made you the person you are today. How might you think about who you are and where you feel you belong as you proceed into your academic future?
In advance of the Fall 2016 semester, please purchase and complete Between the World and Me, your New Student Reading. To learn more about New Student Seminar, this year’s theme and reading, please download and review this pdf document.