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First Pages: First Pages Program

In collaboration with the Honors Program, these are library provided links to reviews, interviews, documents, and pertinent websites to support the freshman summer reading project.

First Pages Program

First Pages was established to develop a sense of common knowledge and purpose as students move into their first year at Northeastern University. Started in 2006, the goals of the project are to present a challenging and engaging text which will provide insight into an important issue and bring faculty, administrators, staff, upper-class students and new students together outside of a traditional classroom setting.

The book is the foundation for a series of programming events during Welcome Week including a visit from the author to speak with incoming first year students about the book and its link to Northeastern’s mission.

We are pleased to announce the Fall 2021 First Pages book, Transcendent Kingdom, by Yaa Gyasi. This year, author Yaa Gyasi will be virtually present at Northeastern University on Wednesday, September 8, 2020, 8:00pm to speak to the incoming class.

Mission Statement

The First Pages initiative aims to engage entering undergraduate students with 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.

How to Prepare


  • Purchase the book from either the University bookstore or a variety of other resellers. 
  • Read the book. Think of concerns, questions, or comments that will contribute the conversation. 
  • Prepare for the author's presentation on Tuesday, September 8th, 2020, 7pm at Matthews Area (this is a mandatory event for all new students. Jose Antonio Vargas will be there to discuss his work and answer questions.  
  • Check out this guide to discover other resources and events. 

More Questions? Contact: 

For more information on library resources and questions about this guide contact Brooke Williams at

For more information on the First Pages program contact Justin Silvestri at 

Student Experience

On the evening prior to the beginning of the academic year, all first-year students come together at Matthews Arena 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.

Students continue to build upon this intellectual community through a variety of 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.