About First Pages

First Pages was established to help students to develop a sense of common knowledge and purpose as they begin their first year at Northeastern University. Started in 2006, the goals of the initiative are to enable entering undergraduates to immediately build an intellectual community at Northeastern by reflecting upon a challenging and engaging literary work that promotes insight into an important societal issue.

One of the most exciting components of First Pages is the opportunity to hear from, and sometimes interact with, the author of the selection.

Each year, during Welcome Week, students have the opportunity to listen to the author discuss their work as part of a signature keynote event. Additionally, students have multiple opportunities throughout their first year to further explore the issues raised in the First Pages selection in some of their courses and in a dedicated set of learning experiences we call, Next Pages.

All new students are required to read the First Pages book prior to arrival on campus.

First Pages Mission Statement

The First Pages initiative introduces entering undergraduate students to Northeastern’s unique culture of scholarly inquiry and experiential learning, and to build a vibrant intellectual community, that begins with the common reading of a significant literary work.

First Pages works are selected on the basis of their innovative and interdisciplinary exploration of contemporary challenges and/or timeless questions surrounding human experience. First Pages experiences are grounded in the literary work’s underlying ideas and themes, and are aimed at cultivating a sense of understanding, empathy, civic-mindedness, and agency for addressing these issues and assisting those populations who are affected by them. Further, the First Pages initiative seeks to connect first-year students with those institutional and local organizations working towards actionable solutions relevant to those issues explored by the First Pages work, and whenever possible, support students’ efforts to create, implement, and/or evaluate solutions.

The Student Experience

On the evening prior to the beginning of the academic year, all first-year students—from all parts of the Northeastern global network— come together for a keynote address and moderated Q&A with the author of the selected work, which they had read prior to their arrival on campus. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, First Pages 2021 will be a virtual event.

Students continue to build upon this intellectual community through a variety of “Next Pages” experiential learning opportunities embedded throughout their first-year coursework and through auxiliary experiences, such as community tours, readings groups, presentations, and co-curricular programming, such as service-learning or social advocacy.

Learning Objectives

As a result of participating in the First Pages initiative, students will be able to:

  • Analyze the underlying ideas and themes of critically-acclaimed literature that illustrate broad social issues, as evidenced by their discussion of these themes in first-year coursework, co-curricular programming, or service-learning events.
  • Recognize how the social issues portrayed in the First Pages selection apply to other populations or contexts, including the communities surrounding Northeastern.
  • Contribute to a common intellectual culture at Northeastern that values the exploration, communication, and critique of new ideas, thereby promoting the recognition that they have the power to both “author” their own education as well as shape the learning and achievements of others.
  • Demonstrate civic-mindedness, evidenced by participation in auxiliary academic and experiential learning opportunities relevant to themes of the First Pages selection.
  • Exhibit an appreciation and sense of agency surrounding the creation of actionable solutions to a critical social issue that can be meaningfully implemented, evidenced by interest or involvement in a form of social advocacy.