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Despite the COVID-19 situation and subsequent impacts to campus activity, the One Campus, One Book program is back for Academic Year 20/21.  The 2020/21 One Campus, One Book Selection is If Our Bodies Could Talk: Operating and Maintaining a Human Body by James Hamblin.

UAS first-year students can receive a free ebook, contact  Copies [book, ebook, audiobook] are also available from the Egan Library.  

OCOB Selection Graphic

“If you want to understand the strange workings of the human body, and the future of medicine, you must read this illuminating, engaging book.” --Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Gene.

James Hamblin, MD. is our invited speaker.  Hamblin is a staff writer at The Atlantic and provides off-beat perspectives on health topics in the video series "If Our Bodies Could Talk."  In September 2020 Hamblin will  meet virtually with UAS students and provide a keynote + QA.    

Get a taste for Hamblin's off-beat perspectives and humor, watch the video series that inspired the book at The Atlantic. 

About the Book

James Hamblin launched a series of short-form videos in 2014 for The Atlantic called "If Our Bodies Could Talk."  With it, the doctor-turned-journalist established himself as a seriously entertaining authority in the field of health.

In illuminating and genuinely funny prose, Hamblin explores the human stories behind health questions that never seem to go away—and which tend to be mischaracterized and oversimplified by marketing and news media.  He covers topics such as sleep, aging, diet, sex and much more.  His accessible answers to common medical questions offer clarity and ultimately help readers worry less about things that don’t really matter.  If Our Bodies Could Talk is a comprehensive, illustrated guide that entertains and educates in equal doses.

Hamblin quit a radiology residency at UCLA to take a job as editor of the health section of The Atlantic’s digital magazine.  He describes the reasoning behind this seemingly reckless decision in the book’s prologue.

“I justified leaving a very stable, lucrative career for a very unstable industry by the fact that there are not enough science journalists or doctors working in public health.  I wanted to have an impact on the roots of problems more than the symptoms, to question the textbooks rather than memorize them, and, ideally, to make people laugh. Journalism allows me to have some hand in public scientific literacy, and that might be, I mean to suggest with this book, the most valuable tool in pursuing health and happiness.  I’ve yet to regret my decision for any extended period of time.”

About James Hamblin |Physician, Journalist

Hamblin is a preventive medicine physician, staff writer at The Atlantic, and lecturer at Yale School of Public Health. He is the author of If Our Bodies Could Talk (Doubleday, 2016) and Clean (Riverhead, 2020). 

His writing and videos have been featured in The New York Times, Politico, NPR, The Guardian, Elle, Mother Jones, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and Marketplace, among others. Time named him among the 140 people to follow on Twitter, Greatist named him among the most influential people in health media, and BuzzFeed called him "the most delightful MD ever," though he is not as delightful as William Carlos Williams.

NP_D7 from James Hamblin on Vimeo.

Upcoming Events 

IOBCT Virtual Book Club: Tuesdays @ 2 PM via Zoom Feb 9, Feb 16, Feb 23 2021

Register via Zoom

Starting Feb 9th Egan Library (@EganLibrary) will host a series of virtual book chats, on James Hamblin’s  If Our Bodies Could Talk: Operating and Maintaining a Human Body. Each Tuesday, at 2 p.m. AKST (over the course of 3 weeks), we'll meet to discuss different sections of the book (2/9  Appearing & Perceiving; 2/16 Eating & Drinking, 2/23 Relating & Enduring). Join the conversation via Zoom we can't wait to hear what you have to say!   Share your reactions to the book using these hashtags #IfOurBodiesCouldTalk #UASReads  

Podcast Club  Monthly Mondays @ Noon Feb 8, March 1, April 5 2021

Register via Zoom

Each month we’ll post a podcast playlist then get together via Zoom to discuss.  For the February & March meetings we’ve provided playlists that includesSocial Distancehosted by James Hamblin (author of  If Our Bodies Could Talk), a short episode from TED Health with strategies for preventing stress, anxiety and burnout as well as one to appeal to the ODS major in us all.  Future themed playlists may be curated by participants. As the COVID-19 conditions in the community improve, we may shift to in-person/hybrid meetings.  Questions?  

March Playlist

Adam Ruins Everything|Ethan Zuckerman on Why the Internet Is a Less Creative Place  34 mins| Dec 7  2016

While you’re using the internet to stream this podcast, Adam and this week’s guest Ethan Zuckerman are talking about how we’re ruining the Internet. Things are getting meta here. Ethan, who appeared on Adam Ruins the Internet, has studied the internet and its affects for years. He’s currently the Director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT and an Associate Professor at the MIT Media Lab. His research focuses on the distribution of attention in mainstream and new media, the use of technology for international development, and the use of new media technologies by activists.

TED Health | The Case for Student Mental Health Days 7 mins | Jan 11 2021

School can be rife with stress, anxiety, panic attacks and even burnout — but there's often no formal policy for students who need to prioritize their well-being. Hailey Hardcastle explains why schools should offer mental health days and allow students time to practice emotional hygiene without stigma. Follow along to learn how she and a team of fellow teens transformed their advocacy into law.


February Playlist

Social Distance Podcast |The Most Magical Place on Earth  |  21 minutes | July 28 2020

Inside the quasi-authoritarian city-state in Florida where people are happily complying with the rules.  On this episode of the podcast Social Distance, staff writer Graeme Wood makes his first visit to Walt Disney World in the midst of a pandemic.

James Hamblin is a doctor (and author of If Our Bodies Could Talk, UAS One Campus, One Book selection for 2020). Katherine Wells is not. But she has a lot of questions. Listen in as Jim and Katherine keep in touch with other journalists, experts, and friends about the latest science and health news⁠—and, more important, what to do with it.

Range |Brown Girls Climb Founder Bethany Lebewitz on Who Gets to Be an Explorer, Why, and How to Expand that Universe | 16 minutes | Oct 4 2018

In the 3rd installment of The North Face She Moves Mountains series, we profile Bethany Lebewitz, founder of Brown Girls Climb. Bethany found rockclimbing while traveling, but back home in the U.S., she realized that most climbers didn't look like her. When she started tagging her photos #browngirlsclimb she found and connected a large and growing community of WOC climbers. For more on the She Moves Mountains campaign.  

Past Events 

OCOB Virtual Book Discussion

Aug 19 2020-Sep 2 2020 on Twitter [add to calendar] #UASReads

This fall, UAS One Campus, One Book invites you to join in a community-wide read of James Hamblin’s If Our Bodies Could Talk: Operating and Maintaining a Human Body, an illuminating and genuinely funny exploration of the human stories behind health questions that never seem to go away—and which tend to be mischaracterized and oversimplified by marketing and news media.

Starting August 19, we're launching a series of Twitter chats, using the hashtag #UASReads. Each Wednesday, over three weeks, at 3 p.m. AKST, we'll post discussion questions devoted to different sections of the book (on August 19, we'll discuss the first two sections; Appearing & Perceiving; on August 26, the third and fourth sections; Eating & Drinking, and on September 2, the final two sections; Relating & Enduring). We encourage you to respond and to share your own thoughts about the book and what it says about our notions of health and normalcy.  So grab or download a copy; we can't wait to hear what you have to say!

A Conversation with James Hamblin
Thursday Sep 3 2020, 6-7pm AKST  [recording is available on homepage]
Zoom, Facebook and Instagram Live 

In 2014, James Hamblin launched a series of short-form videos for The Atlantic called "If Our Bodies Could Talk," With it, the doctor-turned-journalist established himself as a seriously entertaining authority in the field of health. Hamblin will discuss his work as a health journalist and participate in an interactive conversation and moderated QA with attendees.

Hamblin is a preventive medicine physician, staff writer at The Atlantic, and lecturer at Yale School of Public Health. He is the author of the 2020 UAS One Campus, One Book selection: If Our Bodies Could Talk (Doubleday, 2016) and the forthcoming Clean (Riverhead, 2020). He hosted the video series If Our Bodies Could Talk, for which he was a finalist in the Webby awards for Best Web Personality. He is a past Yale University Poynter Fellow in journalism, and he has lectured at Harvard Medical School, Wharton Business School, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, and SXSW, among others. 

Please register in advance for this event. 

Zoom participants will have more opportunity for interacting directly with Hamblin.  

The event will also be broadcast on the UAS Facebook (UASAlaska) or Instagram (uasoutheast) pages.  

2020 If Our Bodies Could Talk  

Faculty are encouraged to contact us if:

  • you are considering using If Our Bodies Could Talk in your class
  • would like to contribute curriculur resources
  • are interested in serving on the Planning and Selection Committee   

Consider using these resources for approaching this year's themes: challenging definitions of normalcy and health.  This page will be updated regularly and features a bibliography of complimentary books and discussion themes by discipline to compliment this year's selection and provide alternate sources for discussion in academic classes.    

Discussion Questions

Sections 1 @ 2, Appearing & Perceiving

Q1: In chapter 1: Appearing, we meet Brett Kopelan’s daughter, Rafi, who suffers from “the worst disease you never heard of,” Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa. At initial diagnosis, Brett runs to Google to learn more. Have you turned to Google to learn about a health condition? Google receives more than 1 billion health questions each day (~7% of all searches), What do you think that suggests about the state of access to health care? #IfOurBodiesCouldTalk #UASReads

Q2: Let’s talk about dimples.... If you have them do you realize how lucky you are? If you don’t would you pay $4K to join team dimple?

Q3: Do you have a sleep hack? In response to the question, “Can I train myself to need less sleep?” we learn that despite how optimal we think we are functioning even while sleep deprived, we’re really not.

The next questions are from sections 3 & 4, Eating & Drinking

Q1 Eggs v Oatmeal; you must choose! Hamblin explores a study on how certain foods impact cholesterol levels, the study also reveals certain flaws in how research is funded. What was the most surprising thing you learned about the FDA or food research this week?

Q2: Citrus, scurvy and Carrots! Let’s talk about Vitamins and Supplements. What was the most shocking thing you read in sections 3 & 4 (Eating & Drinking)?

Q3: Do you believe that laughter is the best medicine? Would you pursue the services of a Certified Health Professional? #PatchAdams #positivity

The following questions are from sections 5 & 6, Relating & Enduring

Q1: Let’s talk about about ‘the talk’ and how we help children (and eachother) understand their bodies and sex in a positive way. Do you remember having that talk with your parents? How could it have been less awkward?

Q2: Let’s talk about consent in the context of data and experimentation. In the case of Henrietta Lacks (be sure to check out the great book by @RebeccaSkloot), Hamblin writes, “Lacks’s cells have lived longer outside of her body than they did in it” and were integral to many medical advancements though no consent was ever given to allow the use of her tissues for research. Are you an organ or tissue donor? What are your thoughts on the use of our bodily information after death?

Let’s keep talking about this amazing book and the mysteries and challenges of operating and maintaining a human body! #UASReads #IfOurBodiesCouldTalk.

One Campus, One Book is the common reading program at UAS-Juneau.  It's a celebration of literature and the relationships and communities that develop between readers and writers.  Discussing a common book can also provide a safe venue for beginning difficult dialogues.  The program grew out of the Student Success Forum with the goal of helping foster community and compassion on campus.  The program's first year (2010) featured David Issay's Listening is an Act of Love and a corresponding campus oral history project ( The UAS Listening Project) collected the stories of students, faculty and staff.   In 2012 the program was formalized as a program of the Egan Library, a selection committee established and in 2013 these program goals and criteria were adopted.  


The UAS One Campus, One Book program will:

  • Begin an exploration of interdisciplinary approaches
  • Create opportunities for learning in and out of the classroom.
  • Foster student, staff and community participation and identification as contributing members of an intellectual community.
  • Promote reading and "foster a page-turning togetherness".*

       *based on DC We Read 2009

The One Campus, One Book (OCOB) program aligns with the mission and goals of the UAS First Year Experience (FYE) Program to support academic success and persistence, ease educational and social transitions to college, and foster student engagement in the UAS Community.  OCOB activities incorporate two FYE student learning outcomes:

First year students participating in OCOB activities will:

  1. Develop a strong network of peers and professionals including:
    1. One faculty member they consider a mentor
    2. One staff member they feel can offer support
    3. Five peers that are conducive to their social and academic success
  2. Develop strong connections to the UAS campus by attending at least five events on the Don't Miss List

Criteria for book selection:

  • The extent to which the book matches program goals (touches on interdisciplinary perspectives and has the potential for integration into curriculum, is not too challenging in terms of reading level or topic).
  • Has the potential for a variety of related program (themes).
  • The book won’t have likely been assigned reading during high school.
  • Accessibility: The book is between 250-350 pages in length, engaging, college-level reading and not a text-book
  • Accessibility: is available currently in paperback
  • Accessibility: bulk ordering of the book won’t require a reprint of the title.
  • The author may be available to visit campus (within our modest budget).

Core Planning and Selection Committee:

Please email committee chair, Jonas Lamb ( ) if you are interested in participating on the committee or for information about the next selection.  

Jonas Lamb, Assistant Professor of Library Science/Public Services Librarian, Chair  

UAS First-Year Experience Committee working group members.   

Faculty & Staff Reviewers (2019): Lisa Richardson, Allison Neeland, Nathan Bodenstadt, Jen Ward, Dylyn Peterson, Callie Ziegler

Previous One Campus, One Book Selections

Information about previous OCOB selections and links to audio/video when available.  

2018: Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream by Joshua Davis 

Invited speaker, Oscar Vazquez, one of the teenagers whose trials and triumphs are documented in the book, visited with UAS classes (Spanish), had a luncheon with the UAS Student Veterans and Family Association and provide the afternoon keynote, "La Vida Robot, STEM, and Immigration"during the Power & Privilege Symposium. [watch]  

Campus screenings of the feature film, Spare Parts and the documentary Underwater Dreams, illustrated how the boys left an enduring legacy that has inspired generations of young Latino advocates to raise their voice on issues of immigration, the DREAM act and equitable access to STEM education.

Spare Parts author, Joshua Davis, recorded a welcome video for incoming UAS students.  [watch]

2017: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandell

UAS partnered with the Juneau Public Libraries on their NEA Big Read Grant.  An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.  Station Eleven served as a starting place for a community wide conversation on the themes of remembering and coping with historical trauma through cultural and artistic forms, boosting community knowledge of emergency preparedness and infectious disease prevention, and promoting kindness and respect for different perspectives despite humans’ sometime violent and intolerant nature.  Fewer events were hosted on campus this year due to the abundance of  community-wide events held by JPL and other Big Read partners. 

Dr. Micaela Martinez, Assistant Professor at the Columbia University, New York, UAS Biology and Math Alumna gave the lecture: The Clockwork of Epidemics, Health & Disease [watch select 092217 from playlist]

Two films interpretting future worlds (Mad Max and The Circle) were screened on campus.  A game night featuring the board game, Pandemic was held in student housing as were weekly book discussions. 

UAS created a website for the project [view the archived website]

2016: Mixed: Multiracial College Students Tell Their Life Stories

Invited speaker, Christina Gomez, co-editor of Mixed visited with 3 classes on the Juneau Campus (Humanities, Spanish, Sociology) and had a lunch time conversation about educational journeys, graduate school, advocacy and passions with the UAS students in the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP). 

Gomez participated and lectured as part of the 1st UAS Power and Privilege Symposium on November 9th, 2016.  Her talk titled "The Act of Dreaming: Undocumented Students in the United States" is archived [ watch, select Session5_Gomez from the playlist). 

Gomez also gave the One Campus, One Book lecture, "Negotiating Identity in America" as part of the Evening at Egan series on November 11th, 2016.  [ watch, select 111116 from the playlist]

2015: Blonde Indian: An Alaska Native Memoir by Ernestine Hayes

“One of the most important books to come out of Alaska. There have been other great memoirs by Alaska Natives, but few if any have been made with such disarming humor, such bravery and such warmth.”  --The Anchorage Press

Hayes' visited 15 classes on the Juneau and Sitka campuses, attended a reception in her honor held by the UAS Honors Program and participated in 3 community events culminating in her Evening at Egan Lecture, "An Animate World", Nov. 6th, 2015 [watch, select 11_6_2015 from playlist].

Hayes moderated the panel, "The Making of Never Alone" an interdisciplinary discussion focusing on the video game, Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna), winner of the 2015 British Academy Games Award: Best Debut.  The panel featured cultural ambassadors Ishmael Hope and Amy Fredeen and a team from E-Line Media appeared via video (Matt Swanson — Producer, Ian Gil — Lead Designer, David Koenig — Technical Director, Casey McDonnell — Art Director).  The discussion raised the question, how can new media platforms be used effectively to tell traditional stories in order celebrate indigenous language, contribute to decolonization efforts and share a vibrant, in-tact culture with younger generations? 

Hayes' donated the pre-publication Blonde Indian manuscript and author's correspondence to the Egan Library.  It can be viewed online in ScholarWorks@UA. Access to original manuscript materials are restricted to in-library use at the University of Alaska Southeast Egan Library and requires pre-approval from a reference librarian. Researchers are encouraged to use the online version of this collection.

Blonde Indian was selected by Alaska Writer Laureate, Frank Soos and the Alaska Center for the Book as the inaugural selection for Alaska Reads 2016, a statewide celebration of Alaskan literature.  Hayes' travelled extensively throughout the state during the month of February and free copies of Blonde Indianwere distributed to public libraries courtesy of the Alaska State Library.     

In March 2016, Hayes was featured on "The Artist" @ 360 North.  The event was recorded and rebroadcast later on 360 North public television and on YouTube.  Additional info about "The Artist @360". [watch]  

Native Voices: Native Peoples' Concepts of Health and Illness an exhibition on loan from the National Library of Medicine was hosted @ Egan Library September-December 2015  

The  Juneau Public Library collected interviews on campus as part of their StoryCorps grant “Every Voice Matters: Recording and Sharing Alaska Native Educational Experiences”.  UAS students and faculty facilitated interviews at the Egan Library.  Recordings will be available on CD at the Juneau Public Libraries in Summer 2016.  Select interviews from the project can be streamed from KHNS (Haines, AK Public Radio).  

2014:  Log from the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck

Steinbeck and Ricketts scholar Katie Rodger visited the Juneau campus for a series of class visits, reception and an Evening at Egan Lecture, 'Discovering Science: Finding the Story', Oct. 10th, 2014 [watch]  

Artist and socio-ecological activist Colleen Flanigan visited the Sitka and Juneau campuses for a series of class visits and presentations on Merging Art and Environmental Sciences.  

2013: At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson

Kij Johnson visited the Juneau campus for a series of class visits, the one-night only production of a staged reading and an Evening at Egan Lecture.

UAS Drama Club S.C.R.I.P.T performed "Finding True North", Nov. 6th 2013
Kij Johnson presented and Evening at Egan lecture, Egan Library, Nov. 8th, 2013 [ watch]

Narrative Endeavors: Visual and Literary Art Exhibition.  One night only student art show with open mic and Google Hangout with Kij Johnson.  Downtown Gallery, April 4th, 2014.   

John Marzluff, author of Gifts of the Crow: How perception, emotion, and thought allow smart birds to behave like humans presented a different perspective on this year's OCOB theme of human-animal communication and communicating with the other at a Sound and Motion Lecture on April 18th, 2014.  

2012: Being Caribou by Karsten Heuer  

Karsten Heuer and Leanne Alison visited the Juneau campus for a series of lectures, film screening and classroom visits. Gwich’in elder Randall Tetlichi was elder-in-residence on the Juneau Campus and gave another perspective on related themes.

Gwich’in elder Randall Tetlichi presented an Evening at Egan lecture, Egan Library: Nov. 9th  2012 [watch ]
Leanne screened the related film, Egan Lecture Hall followed by a Q&A, Nov. 15th 2012 [watch]
Karsten presented an Evening at Egan lecture, Egan Library, Nov. 16th 2012 [watch]
Sarah Ray, OCOB 2012 Committee Chair

2011: The Truth About Stories by Thomas King

2010: Listening is an Act of Love by David Isay

Section Process and Recommendations  

Do you know of a great book that could help build community and begin difficult conversations on campus through the OCOB program?  Feel free to nominate a title that is not included in our short list.  Each selection cycle the committee reviews more than 20 titles, many are from campus commuinity nominations.   From these reviews and author availability, a short list of titles is made available for broader campus input.  We look forward to adding your nominations to the ongoing consideration pool.  Please keep in mind the program goals, selection criteria and we'd love to hear your ideas for related programming.  

For examples, check out some common reading titles from these publishers:

Book Nomination Form

Internship Opportunities:

Interested in Interning with the OCOB program? Talk to your advisor and contact to discuss options.

The OCOB Student internship will provide students with experience in the management, marketing and promotion of arts and culture events by assisting in the production of the campus-wide common reading program, One Campus, One Book and related campus and community events. This internship will also incorporate independent networking around the City and Borough of Juneau with the purpose of determining how arts and culture organizations develop, budget, staff, coordinate logistics, and evaluate their programs and events.  Duties vary between Fall and Spring Internship opportunities and each interested student is encouraged to work with their faculty advisor and OCOB faculty sponsors to adapt the internship to meet their program needs.  The OCOB internship can be adapted to meet a variety of programatic needs including Humanities, Communication, English and more.  Student interns can also choose to enroll at either 291/391/491 levels and typically for 3 credits (requires 150 clock hours).  These internship opportunities are open until filled.  Deadline to apply for fall is May 1 of the prior year and the deadline for the spring internship is December 1.  Funding may be available to cover internship credit/tuition costs.     

Objectives:  One objective of the internship will be to provide the student an opportunity to actively participate in the management, marketing and promotion of an arts and culture event.

Interns will:

  • Attend regular OCOB committee planning and other related meetings/trainings (budget/CMS). 
  • Review and critically evaluate potential book titles for selection
  • Assist in book orders and author visit planning
  • Create promotional materials, surveys and content for print, web (CMS training provided) and social media
  • Assist in event scheduling, promotion and event logistics.
  • Develop written and oral communication skills by discussing and promoting OCOB programs and events with students and in the community
  • Develop confidence and communication skills serving as coordinator of correspondence and communication with invited author, publisher and other guest speakers/performers.

Questions about the internship?  Contact Jonas Lamb ( or call 907-796-6440


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