MERCED'S COMMON READ PROGRAM is
designed to enchance the campus's already strong sense of community,
as well as to provide an introduction to academic life. This book, in whole or part, is required
reading in general education and writing courses (Core 1, Writing
10) and recommended reading in other first-year classes. It will be the subject of university-wide events, including
a film series, faculty symposium and guest lectures. We encourage
you to share the book with your family and friends, and seek opportunities
to discuss the text outside of class. Most of all, we hope you enjoy
reading the book and making it a part of scholarly inquiry at UC Merced.
Laura Cunningham's A State of Change is a love letter to California as it once was, as it currently is, and as it might yet be. Drawing on her work as a biologist and an artist, and exercising the keen eye of a trained naturalist, Cunningham catalogs our state’s natural wonders as they have gradually changed via human influence. As the book’s back cover tells us, “in vivid paintings, lively sketches, and engaging prose, [Cunningham] renders a landscape teeming with grizzly bears, pronghorn, and condors, rivers crowded with salmon, endless fields of flowers, and vast inland seas—all deep with knowledge and eye-opening wonder.” The implication of this comprehensive tour isn’t so much to mourn the passing of bygone eras as it is to remind us that we may yet realize them via environmentally imaginative planning—but only if we understand the complex natural legacy of our surroundings down through the ages and into the future.