Summer Reading

Class of 2018 Summer Reading Assignment

In order to prepare the Sacred Heart University class of 2018 for the start of their college careers and for the academic realities of college life, we are announcing our Freshman Summer Reading Assignment. This year, we have chosen a text that offers challenge, enlightenment, and food for thought.  Please read the text with care, enjoy and think about it, and be prepared to discuss it with classmates and professors when you arrive to begin the fall semester.  Be sure to bring the book with you in August.

Our text is Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Michael J. Sandel (available at the Sacred Heart University Bookstore)

Professor Sandel challenges us all to think carefully about what we do and how and why we judge right from wrong.  In this book and in his classes at Harvard, Sandel presents us with some intriguing case studies that defy simplistic answers and open our eyes to a wide variety of ethical points of view.   While we know you hope to succeed  in college and beyond, we want you also to think about what you value and what kind of person you hope to become—and that means developing your own philosophy about “Justice” and  “The Right Thing To Do.”

As you can see from the many positive reviews on the cover and inside the book, critics have praised Sandel’s book. Karen B. Long calls it “an intoxicating invitation to take apart and examine how we arrive at our notions of right and wrong.”  A Publisher’s Weekly review points to Sandel’s “rare gift for making complex issues comprehensible, even entertaining, without compromising their gravity.”  Finally, E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains that Sandel “calls us to a better way of doing politics, and a more enriching way of living our lives.”

We are pleased to announce that Michael Sandel will be speaking on campus to the Sacred Heart University freshman class and to the entire University Community on September 10, 2014.

In addition, we are planning a number of activities for the fall that will link with your Summer Reading, including a series of faculty-led discussions on Justice and its potential impact on our lives both as students and as citizens, along with our Freshman Summer Reading Essay Contest that you will find described in detail on the following page. 

Since this reading is your first “college assignment” at Sacred Heart University, we ask you to approach it as a college student would—be thorough and thoughtful, use your time wisely, and don’t make this just a “last minute” task. If you have questions about the reading, the Essay Contest, or  anything else, feel free to contact Dean Bozzone at 203-365-7648 or at

Freshman Summer Reading Essay Contest

We are pleased to announce our third annual Freshman Summer Reading Essay Contest, open to all members of the Sacred Heart University class of 2018 .The general topic of the essay, as you might expect, is our Summer Reading, Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?.  In the upcoming months, you will hear the voices of our faculty members and even the voice of Professor Sandel himself,  but the discussion stands incomplete without the most important voice of allyour voice, the many voices of the men and women who are the Sacred Heart University class of 2018

We will be awarding four prizes, and the winners’ names will be announced at the Michael Sandel presentation on September 10th.

  • First Prize: $500 (SHU Bookstore Gift Card)
  • Second Prize: $300 (SHU Bookstore Gift Card)
  • Two Honorable Mention Prizes: $100 each (SHU Bookstore Gift Cards)

750-1,000 Words typed/double-spaced.  Entries must be submitted via email as attached Word Documents. All entries must be received by August 6, 2014.  The email address for entries is

The first page of your essay (no cover pages please) should have your full name in the upper left corner and a title centered over the text. Each page should have your last name and the page number in the upper right corner (e.g., Smith-2).

Please use this prompt as a guide as you write. We are not, however, asking simply for answers to the questions in the prompt; instead we are looking for a coherent, intelligent, and logically organized essay that stems from your reading of Sandel’s text and adds to our understanding of its importance.

As you enter college and after reflecting on your reading of Justice, what can you learn from this book that might be significant as you begin this new chapter in your life?  Our Common Core asks us to consider how we might live lives of meaning and purpose.  From reading the text and considering the issues and complexities Sandel presents, how might it offer us some guidance—or perhaps some warning-- as we embark on our personal journeys toward lives of meaning and purpose? 

All entries must be received by August 6, 2014.

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