The Common Book

From 1987-2013, as part of Writing Across the Curriculum activities at Middlesex Community College, a Common Book was recommended each year for the whole college, selected for literary quality and relevance to many subject areas. Common Books included This I Believe - Volume 2; Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan; When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka and Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama (Full historical list here.)

For those interested in using and/or continuing to use the most recent Common Book, This I Believe - Volume II, the extensive supporting resources for the book will remain available on the WAC website, including links to "This I Believe Essays from Middlesex Community College Students, Faculty & Staff Members" (scroll to see below).

 Information and Resources for  . . .

This I Believe - Volume 2:
More Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women

Edited by Jay Allison & Dan Gediman, in Association with National Public Radio

Read MCC This I Believe essays by fellow Students, Faculty, Staff, and Community members!

        AND . . .

Submit Your Own Essay to be Posted on the This I Believe website
and Posted on our special MCC This I Believe webpage! 

In previous years, the Common Book has served as a foundation for lectures, panel discussions, theater performances, videos, films, art displays, essay contests, museum trips, and other events. But most important of all, the Common Book has served as the basis for many valuable classroom experiences and thought-provoking discussions among students, faculty, and staff at the college. For that, ultimately, is the most fundamental purpose.

Parts or all of the Common Book may be required in classes in all disciplines. This book may be read independently by students with very little additional time required in classes or might be used as a whole or in part by professors in various disciplines.

It is available in paperback at both the Bedford and Lowell campus bookstores and can also be purchased at most bookstores; it is also available for circulation at both MCC's Bedford and Lowell libraries. There will be several activities to supplement the book throughout the school year. The WAC Committee envisions that the short, individual essays in this book might be read individually or in sections, with different essays of particular interest to different courses and programs at MCC.  Please read any or all of this the MCC Common Book, explore the This I Believe website ( ), listen to podcasts of authors reading their essays (broadcast originally on National Public Radio), and join the MCC (and national) conversation! 

We hope this book will inspire students, faculty, staff, and all members of the MCC community to write an essay for themselves that explores a core principle that guides their life, and perhaps to share their essay with the MCC community and/or the world. We know you will be stimulated, challenged, informed, and rewarded through your reading of the current Common Book, This I Believe - Volume 2: More Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women, edited by Jay Allison & Dan Gediman.

This I Believe Website . . . to

Read Excerpts / Individual Essays from This I Believe, Vol. 2

Listen to Podcasts of Authors Reading their Essays (originally broadcast on National Public Radio) 

Browse Essays by Themes

*Submit Your Own Essay to be Posted on the This I Believe website
and Posted on a special MCC This I Believe webpage! 

*Read MCC This I Believe essays by fellow Students, Faculty, Staff, and Community members!

See Guidelines & Tips for Writing Your Own “This I Believe” Essay

Go to the NPR (National Public Radio) website

Hear / Read the Most Current “This I Believe” essays featured on Bob Edwards Weekend radio program through PRI (Public Radio International), locally broadcast Saturdays, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm. on Boston’s WGBH-Radio, 89.7 FM 


Additional Resources for Faculty:              

Detailed Table of Contents Chart with Recommendations for MCC Discipline/Course & some notes on the essay's authors to help with faculty selections of “This I Believe” essays for those with limited time! (created by MCC's WAC Coordinator)

Teaching Guide for Using This I Believe in Higher Education

Desk / Examination Copy (Faculty) - email your request to or fax to 609-409-0298

Wittenberg University (Ohio) Professor’s video about his Freshman students’ writing of “This I Believe” essays 

Blog by book's publisher sharing teaching ideas from colleges & universities using This I Believe / This I Believe II

*See the New Links noted above for your MCC Students to submit their own essays to be both posted on the This I Believe website and posted on a special MCC This I Believe webpage 

Common Book Criteria & Suggestions for Future

This second collection of This I Believe essays gathers seventy five essayists—ranging from famous to previously unknown—completing the thought that begins the book’s title. With contributors who run the gamut from cellist Yo-Yo Ma to ordinary folks like a diner waitress, an Iraq War veteran, a farmer, a new husband, and many others, This I Believe II, like the first New York Times bestselling collection, showcases moving and irresistible essays. .  .  .   Here is a welcome, stirring, and provocative communion with the minds and hearts of a diverse, new group of people—whose beliefs and the remarkably varied ways in which they choose to express them reveal the American spirit at its best” (jacket notes).

These essays were originally broadcast on National Public Radio over the past ten years as part of the This I Believe popular and influential series.   

Editor Jay Allison emphasizes that “This I Believe is a snapshot of the convictions of our age. The project has spread around the globe and the response has been overwhelming. [Over] 50,000 people (you can find them at have submitted essays” (2). 

About the Editors:
Jay Allison
, the host and curator of This I Believe, is an independent broadcast journalist. His work appears often on NPR and has earned him five Peabody Awards. He is the founder of the public radio stations that serve Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Cape Cod, where he lives.

Dan Gediman is the executive producer of This I Believe. His work has been heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Fresh Air, Marketplace, Jazz Profiles, and This American Life. He has won many of public broadcasting’s most prestigious awards, including the duPont-Columbia Award.


Bowling Green State University (Ohio) – 2009, 2010
Bucknell University (Pa.) – 2011
Endicott College (Mass.) – 2008, 2010
Florida State University – 2010
Ithaca College (N.Y.) – 2009
Kent State (Ohio) – 2010, 2011
Loyola University Chicago (Ill.) – 2010
Mt. Ida College (Mass.) – 2009
Springfield College (Mass.) – 2008
Stonehill College (Mass.) – 2011
Tufts University (Mass.) – 2010

Virginia Tech – 2011
(Complete list here.)


Podcasts of the remarkable story of the original This I Believe radio series that was developed in the 1950s and hosted by famous broadcaster Edward R. Murrow.  And hear & read statements of belief from more than 20 leading figures of the 1950s, including Albert Einstein, Harry Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Mead, and Helen Keller.  

Original Introduction to the “This I Believe” radio show from the 1950s


Astronaut Dan Tani's “This I Believe” essay recorded aboard the International Space Station; Tani believes in trusting his fellow humans and being optimistic about the future. 

Partners In Health co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer's "This I Believe" essay with photos taken at Partners In Health sites around the world.

This I Believe REVEALED Project is a collaboration through WRNI’s (Rhode Island’s National Public Radio) involving print, radio, and photography that create a unique and multi-dimensional experience. The result is a powerful combination of creativity, words, photography, and film.  Photographer Scott Indermaur creates one-of-a-kind portraits of 11 individuals who have been given the unique challenge of symbolically capturing their essence and spirituality in a small box.

            Revealed: Portraits from Beneath One’s Surface is a new documentary film
            that explores the insights and the impact the REVEALED Project has had on the individuals and on the photographer.   Information & the trailer (scroll) 

ESOL (English as a Second or Other Language) Student’s “This I Believe” essay for an ESOL Advanced Communication course

Compilation of excerpts from "I Believe" essays and poems set to original musicfor an Introduction to Journalism class at Peninsula High School.


Last Modified: 8/4/23