Each year, on the Monday before Convocation, incoming freshmen gather with Brown faculty and administration in classrooms throughout campus to engage in “First Readings” seminars, a discussion centered around Brown’s summer reading project for incoming students. This year, new President Christina Paxson joined students in a Salomon Center classroom to lead the discussion of Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution, by Charles Rappleye. The story follows a century in the lives of Brown University founders, brothers and business partners John and Moses Brown, who eventually take very different directions in life, with Moses becoming an early abolitionist, and John defending the slave trade and breaking the laws written to stop it. The purpose of the First Readings project is to engage students before they arrive on campus. Students receive a copy of the assigned book over the summer and write letters to their academic advisers reflecting on the material. The seminars over orientation weekend allow students to come together in a classroom setting, meet their peers, and take part in an open conversation that touches on the book and their reflections on the journey they are about to begin.

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