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University of Mississippi

Common Reading Committee Schedules Virtual Panel Discussions

Zoom events focus on preservation of clean water supplies

The UM 2020-21 Common Reading Experience selection, ‘What the Eyes Don’t See,’ will serve as the foundation of three virtual panel discussions set for this month.

The UM 2020-21 Common Reading Experience selection, ‘What the Eyes Don’t See,’ will serve as the foundation of three virtual panel discussions set for this month.


Maintaining state, national and global clean water supplies is the focus for three virtual panel discussions being hosted by University of Mississippi‘s Common Reading Experience team this month.

The discussions are part of the 2020-21 Common Reading Experience. Since its launch in 2011, the CRE uses one book to unite discussions broadly across the incoming class and through the Ole Miss community. Every first-year student receives a copy of the selected text before the start of the fall semester.

Instructors from the Department of Writing and Rhetoric, First-Year Experience and other disciplines then utilize the text in their classes to relate discussions around themes from the book in a cross-disciplinary manner.

“This year’s speakers have unique expertise that adds to the discussion of themes from the book, ‘What the Eyes Don’t See’ by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha,” said Melissa Dennis, associate professor and head of research and instruction in UM Libraries and member of the CRE committee. “The story of what happened in Flint, Michigan, affected all types of people and many areas of life, work and government.

“We can discuss these themes and look at what happens here in Mississippi, find out what’s in our water and talk about ways to enact real change in policies.”

The first two Zoom events begin at 1 p.m., while the final event starts at 6 p.m. Pre-registration is required. Dates and topics of discussion are:

  • Oct. 13: “Water Security Issues: Research on the Middle East.” Vivian Ibrahim, Croft Professor of History and International Studies and a historian of the modern Middle East, will discuss her research on international water crises. Sponsored by the Croft Institute for International Studies.
  • Oct. 16: “Empowering Individuals to Reduce Lead Exposure from Drinking Water through Community-Based Research.” Participants will learn about a UM research team’s efforts to uncover data on lead in water in Mississippi. Faculty members on the research team are Stephanie Otts, senior research counsel and director of the National Sea Grant Law Center and the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program in the School of Law; Kristie Willett, chair of the Department of BioMolecular Sciences and professor of pharmacology and environmental toxicology; John Green and Lynn Woo, staff members in the Center for Population Studies; and Cristiane Surbeck, professor of civil engineering.
  • Oct. 20: “Clean Water: Tracking Access and Quality through Public Information.” A panel of journalists and public officials will discuss water access issues in Mississippi and how the public can find out more about access and what’s in their water. Panelists include Aaliyah Wright, a reporter for Mississippi Today, and Brandon Presley, Northern District public service commissioner. Morgan Burger, anchor and multimedia journalist for WTVA-TV, will moderate. Sponsored by the School of Journalism and New Media.

To pre-register, visit For more information about the Common Reading Experience, visit