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Schur to discuss First Year Reading Experience Book, "How to be Perfect," at Koger Center

On September 26, all USC students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to learn more about this year’s First Year Reading Experience, straight from the author. 

Each year, incoming students have the opportunity to participate in the shared First Year Reading Experience program, which gives all first-year students a common thread to discuss as they enter the university. This year, students were invited to read How to be Perfect, a layman’s treatise to moral philosophy written with the characteristic easy wit that author Michael Schur skillfully deployed in writing the hit TV show The Good Place. At 6 p.m. on Sept. 26, university students, faculty and staff will be able to hear directly from Schur for free at the Koger Center, where the producer and writer will take a deeper dive into his book. 

“The First Year Reading Experience provides an important opportunity for students to build community – it also introduces new students to the intellectual life of the campus by providing a shared common experience heading into their first year of college,” says Lara Lomicka Anderson, interim vice provost of undergraduate affairs. “This year’s book helps spark meaningful conversation about the bigger questions in life. We are fortunate that the campus community will get to hear from Michael Schur and benefit from his insights on moral philosophy and how it applies to our lives.” 

Schur’s visit to campus is co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost and University 101 programs, which will allow Schur to visit two University 101 classes before giving his formal presentation at the Koger Center. 

“The committee is excited about this book because it will allow students to think more deeply about what it means to be a good person in today’s complex world,” says Dan Friedman, executive director of University 101 programs. “Schur takes a heavy concept like moral philosophy and applies his wit and humor to making it engaging and accessible. I know our students are excited to hear from someone as renowned as Mike Schur, and his talk should launch some really great conversations in the U101 classroom.”  

Schur is best known for the popular comedies he has helped write and produce: The Office, Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place. A Harvard University graduate, he honed his writing skills as a member of centuries-old comedy publication The Harvard Lampoon before moving on to write and produce for Saturday Night Live. Schur also played the role of Mose Schrute on The Office. Schur’s experience with a fender bender claims dispute and pressing questions about his motives for tipping baristas jumpstarted his interest in moral philosophy. His subsequent foray into the world of virtue ethics, deontology and utilitarianism led to the creation of The Good Place, and later, his nonfiction book How to be Perfect.

The First Year Reading Experience is a university initiative created in 1993 to foster a shared student experience and emphasize USC’s commitment to academics. This year, thousands of incoming students received a copy of How to be Perfect, and many U101 classes across campus are discussing the ideas presented by the book. 

The event is free and open to USC students, faculty and staff. Seats are first come, first serve and the event is expected to last for one hour. 

Check out these related events:

Sarah McGrath, Princeton University, Ethics: How Hard Can It Be?, Oct. 12

Christopher Tollefsen "Imperfect by Omission", Nov. 3

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