A Campus Community Built on ‘Joy’

"The Book of Joy" authors, standing, laughing
The authors, enjoying the moment, from left: the Dalai Lama, Douglas Abrams and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The Campus Community Book Project is proud to present a year of joyful community building — inspired by The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, co-authored by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, two of the world’s best-known faith leaders.


"The Book of Joy" cover


Some students will see the book on their reading lists. Other students, along with faculty and staff, also are encouraged to read the book

Shields Library has assembled an exhibition centered around the book. See box below for details on this exhibition and another in Sacramento.

And next week brings the first of the project’s on-campus programs: a workshop on “How to Meditate in Modern Time,” on how meditation isn’t about focusing only on your breath. Presented by Geshe Tenzing Thinley of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, the workshop will introduce participants to mind training by using reason and analysis, and guide them in doing so.

Book project programming extends into May, and includes a campus visit by the book’s third author, Douglas Abrams, who will participate in two events on Monday, Feb. 4, at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts: a Forum @ MC (free) and an evening talk (ticketed event).

Sponsored by the Office of Campus Community Relations, the book project began in the aftermath of 9/11 as a means of promoting respectful dialogue among faculty, staff, students and the wider community, on a topic that people are engaged in, because of their reading the same book.

Each book fits into a theme that changes from year to year. This year’s selection committee, working with the theme of “Community Building,” chose The Book of Joy for its potential to help build a connected campus where people are generous of spirit, gratitude, compassion and acceptance. Committee members tell why they chose The Book of Joy.

This year’s book is the 17th in the project series. See all the previous books.

Beyond reading

Book project programming this year includes lectures, panels, workshops, film screenings, exhibits and performances — and even stand-up comedy — on the Davis and Sacramento campuses, and in the Davis and Sacramento communities. All events are open to the public, and most are free.

The comic is Karma Waltonen, a lecturer in the University Writing Program, who teaches a First-Year Seminar on stand-up comedy. She will present three book project programs: a talk on “Joy and Laughter,” a stand-up show titled “Chronic Pain: A Comedy” and a screening and discussion of “Bart’s Inner Child” from The Simpsons television show.


  • Building Community Through The Book of Joy Shields Library, near Special Collections, first floor, through March 22.
  • Online bibliography, prepared by the UC Davis Library and posted on Pinterest.
  • Advancing Health Education, Advocacy and Social Well-Being in Queer Populations — Blaisdell Medical Library (in the Education Building, 4610 X St., Sacramento), Oct. 1-31, in celebration of UC Davis Health LGBTQ+ History Month. The exhibition will include resources inspired by themes from The Book of Joy.

Stay tuned for a mandala exhibit, in the planning stages.

Other presenters include Jann Murray-Garcia, assistant clinical professor, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, on “Building Community, Engaging Community: The UC Davis Interprofessional Central Valley Road Trip”; Robert Emmons, psychology professor, on “The Science and Practice of Gratitude”; Philippe Goldin, associate professor, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, on “Considering Compassion: Implications for Our Community at UC Davis Health”; James Housefield, associate professor, Department of Design, on “Design and the Play Instinct: Paul Rand and Joy in Modern Art” and Isao Fujimoto, senior lecturer emeritus, and Dennis Pendleton, dean emeritus, discussing Fujimoto’s life story, Bouncing Back: Community, Resilience and Curiosity.

The Stephens-Davis Branch Library, a longtime book project partner, has scheduled several Book of Joy-related programs, including “Caturday in the Library,” offering people the opportunity to learn and experience the joy of cat companionship; and a workshop on "Letting Go of Obstacles of Joy," facilitated by Rebecca Pope, certified master of medical qigong.

Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum, another longtime partner, will offer Art Mix: Joy and Artful Meditation (co-led by Ian Koebner, director of Integrative Pain Management, and a clinical instructor in the Division of Pain Medicine at UC Davis).

Student-centered programming includes “How Students Find Joy in Their Spiritual Practices or Traditions,” “Discovering Joy in Your Choice of Major” and “Speed Friending.”

See the complete schedule of book project events.

Download the poster. For printed posters and brochures, when available, contact Megan Macklin by email.

Additional resources, including a video archive of program events.

In the curriculum

Here are some of the faculty members who have assigned The Book of Joy in their fall classes:

  • Marian Schlotterbeck, assistant professor of history, leads a First-Year Seminar titled “Exploring Joy through the Campus Community Book Project.”
  • Design professor Glenda Drew has assigned the book this quarter in DES 225, “Studio Practice in Design,” in which Master of Fine Arts students will use the book as inspiration for their final projects — and they will be shown in a pop-up exhibit at the end of the fall quarter and also at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts when Abrams, one of the book’s authors, gives a talk there in February.
  • Waltonen, the stand-up comic and writing program lecturer, is using the book in WLD 57, “Workload English.”

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Media Resources

Dateline Staff, 530-752-6556, dateline@ucdavis.edu

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