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To keep up with the issues that generate discussion and interest at IUPUI during the 2009-10 academic year, check out the "Common Theme" home page

Common theme, uncommon outcomes

At age 13, Ishmael Beah was a soldier in his native African country of Sierra Leone, one of an estimated 300,000 child soldiers fighting, killing and dying in conflicts around the world. Now, more than a decade later, Beahs story — eloquently told in his book, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier — is making an impact on the lives of people everywhere, including the students, faculty and staff at IUPUI.

Beah visited IUPUI this spring to tell his story and answer questions about the harsh life that he escaped by moving to America — harshness still affecting untold numbers of children abroad. His compelling tale provided his campus audience with much to consider, the underlying purpose of the program which Beahs visit launched: IUPUI's new "Common Theme" project.

The project is designed to bring together people with a wide range of perspectives and life experiences to discuss the issues that shape the world of today — and tomorrow. Each school year's "Common Theme" will be built around a "Common Book" to stimulate conversations that deepen and enrich the academic experience of IUPUI students, along with the faculty who teach and staff who serve them.

During the 2009-10 school year, the "Common Book" will be Bill McKibben's Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future.

For more on Beah's story, visit his official Web site at www.alongwaygone.com