Book Cover. If I Understood You, Would I have This Look on My Face? My adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating. Alan Alda.

The One Book/One College program at CSN strives to foster a sense of community, creativity, and conversation through the mutual study of a common reading. For the 2019-20 academic year, we are excited to read and discuss Alan Alda's If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? This accessible book shares Alda's research into communication, revealing lessons from theater improv  and empathy that actually help scientists communicate with laypeople, leaders communicate with their community, and all of us communicate more effectively with each other. Faculty of all disciplines are invited to teach all or part of the book in their courses, and students, staff, and administration are invited to read the book as well. Book discussions, workshops, hikes and other events will be scheduled to enhance the reading experience and to promote further conversation and connections. See "events" link below for further details.

Faculty Student Hikes 1st Saturday of the month See events page below for more information
2019-20 Selection If I Understood You Would I Have This Look on My Face? By Alan Alda
Library Guide and Resources
Books on a shelf
 Here you will find an extensive research guide to accompany your study of If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face?  The guide includes articles, videos, books, and teaching ideas. (For library guides on previous selections, see the "previous selections" tab below.)
Upcoming Events and Hikes
Woman hiking on a mountain trail.
We seek to host events that encourage students and faculty to engage with the book on various levels. These free events include hikes, film screenings, lectures, and competitions.

OBOC Hikes in the Spring Mountains and Red Rock Canyon

General: Hikers will meet at 8:00 A.M. at the West Charleston Campus parking lot east of the "B" Building; we'll be departing at 8:10. Bring a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, sturdy shoes, layered clothing, 1.5 liters of water, a snack or sandwich, and your day pack. If you have one, bring your copy of If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face?  We'll do a shared reading of one or two compelling passages.  If you've never read the book, don't worry!  Everyone is welcome. To join the hike, please email Jack Sawyer with a subject line "One Book Hike," and he will add you to the list: limited to the first 15 people responding. (*Hikes subject to change depending on weather conditions.) 


  • Saturday, September 7, 2019.  "Bristlecone Trail," Lee Canyon, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area. Hike leaders: Jack Sawyer (Library) and Patricia Vazquez (English Dept.)

  • Depending on the group's preference, we will walk 4 miles out and back or complete a 6-mile loop. Elevation gain from about 8600' to 9400'. There may be some quaking aspen beginning their display of fall colors. Take a break from the heat and enjoy the walk and reading amid the cool, pristine, pine-scented mountain air. (Hike difficulty: moderate)

  • Saturday, October 5, 2019.  "Corn Creek Nature Trail," Corn Creek, Desert National Wildlife Range. Hike leaders: Jack Sawyer (Library) and Carrie Preite (Biological Sciences Dept.)

  • This is a flat 2.2-mile loop through one of Las Vegas’s hidden gems. There is a creek, grassy birding area, and sand dunes. Biological Science professor, Carrie Preite, will co-lead the hike, sharing her expertise with us as we explore this oasis in the desert. (Hike difficulty: easy)

  • Saturday, November 2, 2019. "Sloan Canyon Petroglyphs," North McCullough Wilderness, BLM. Hike leader: Jack Sawyer (Library)

  • This is a 4-mile round-trip trail that leads to an impressive outdoor museum of 4000 year-old petroglyphs with 300 rock art panels. Elevation gain of 2900’ to 3100’ and back. Flora will include creosote bush, desert almond, white bursage, and cat claw acacia. (Hike difficulty: easy to moderate)

  • Saturday, February 1, 2020.  “Calico Tanks,” Red Rock Canyon National Conservation AreaHike leaders: Jack Sawyer (Library) and Melissa Giovanni (Physical Sciences)

  • This is a 2.3-mile roundtrip hike on one of Red Rock’s most iconic and stunning trails. Elevation gain from about 4200' to 4700' and back. The hike includes some scrambling to a natural water tank and ultimately to a view of the Vegas Valley and Las Vegas Strip. (Hike difficulty: moderate to strenuous)
  • Saturday, March 7, 2020. “Ash Creek Spring,” Red Rock Canyon NCA.
    Hike leader: Jack Sawyer (Library)

  • This is a pleasant, 2-mile round trip hike that includes a tree-lined stream and dramatic sandstone formations. Elevation gain/loss of 3800’-4000'. (Hike difficulty: easy)
  • Saturday, April 4, 2020. “Stanley B. Springs,” Kyle Canyon, Spring Mountains N.R.A. Hike leader: Jack Sawyer (Library)

  • This is a 3-mile round trip mountain hike at the confluence of two streams. Kick off Spring Break by enjoying the fabulous pines and firs and maybe catch some early shooting stars or Columbine flowers. Elevation gain from 7000' to 7800'. (Hike difficulty: moderate)
  • Saturday, May 2, 2020. “Wild Horse Canyon,” Spring Mountains N.R.A. Hike leader: Jack Sawyer (Library)

  • Depending on the eagerness of the hikers, we will go some or all of this 3-5 mile hike. Elevation gain from 8300' to 9200'.   We’ll see beautiful wildflowers as we hike along a stream in the shade of ponderosa pines. We may even see some wild horses too. Prepare for final exams by de-stressing and enjoying the fresh mountain air. (Hike difficulty: moderate)


SciNight logo

SciNight Journal Club
Thursday, October 17, 2019, 7:30 P.M., NLV N216

After seeing how poorly scientists are trained at communicating, Alan Alda set out to make changes and give lessons inspired by improvisation and scientific research in the new One Book/One College selection If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? We will talk about how using improvisational exercises, storytelling, and other techniques allowed Alda to help scientists become better communicators. 

All students and faculty welcome. Please direct questions and inquiries to Chelsey McKenna: Contact Us

Books on a table
Spread the Word Nevada: Volunteer Opportunity with CSN Libraries
Friday, November 15, 3:30-5:30 P.M.

Join us as we volunteer for Spread the Word Nevada (, a children's literacy non-profit. We will be cleaning and prepping donated books for distribution to area schools and programs. We'll meet at the Spread the Word Nevada Office: 1065 American Pacific Dr. #160, Henderson, NV 89074. 

To sign up or for more information, contact Librarian Christine Shore at Contact Usor 702-651-3112.

Local Improv
If you are interested in watching a local improv group to see how the experts do it, here are some options below:

Bleach Improv:  Five friends who perform improv together.

Las Vegas Improvisation Players Comedy Show: December 14, 7-9 P.M. Since 2001, the Las Vegas Improvisation Players have provided quick-witted, spur-of-the-moment comedy to thousands of Las Vegas valley residents over the years. Inspired by suggestions from the audience, the troupe creates on the spot hilarious new scenes, songs and poems in a format similar to the popular TV program “Whose Line is it Anyway?” Keeping the comedy swift, fun and clean, these shows provide an enjoyable and suitable evening for the whole family.

Our Student Designers
Wire sculpture on yellow background
In Spring 2017, OBOC collaborated with Professor Dan McElhattan's Advanced Graphic Design class to create student designs for the new One Book/One College program.  Under Dan's expert guidance, students created poster and logo designs, which they kindly donated to the One Book/One College program.  The images below represent the student designs chosen by the committee.  Click on each design to learn more about each of these talented designers.  The link below will take you to a book showcasing all of the student designs.  The committee is grateful for Dan's and the students' contributions.
Picture of Holly Schwartz
Holly Schwartz

The committee chose Holly's design as the official logo of the One Book/One College program.  Holly will graduate in May 2018 with her AAS degree in graphic communications.  For more information about Holly, email her Contact Us

Picture of Holly Schwartz
Holly Schwartz

Holly: "I am honored to have been given the opportunity to give back to our college and design a logo for a program that I have truly enjoyed watching unite our CSN community . . .  My design goal and philosophy is to give back to my local community in any way that I can . . . I want to be able to shine a light on my community with everything that I do in life."

Picture of Amy Terry
Amy Terry

Amy is an animator, illustrator, and graphic designer.  For more information:  Contact Us
Twitter and Tumblr: @pixelameart
Portfolio website:

Picture of Sabrea Lawrence
Sabrea Lawrence

Sabrea is a Las Vegas graphic designer. For more information, email her Contact Us or call 702-752-1272


Picture of Therese Bautista
Therese Bautista

Therese is a graphic designer based in Henderson, Nevada. She originally wanted to major in art, but design 
opened her eyes to view things past their aesthetic pleasure and see how they carry out their functions in their entirety. In combining art and design, she hopes she can properly convey messages that can positively impact society. (702) 461 5902
Contact Us

Picture of Amy Terry
Amy Terry

Amy is an animator, illustrator, and graphic designer.  For more information: Contact Us
Twitter and Tumblr: @pixelameart
Portfolio website:

Previous Selections
The house on mango street by Sandra Cisneros
2016-17: The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros

Book cover - The house on mango street 

2017-18: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot

2018-19: Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic, Sam Quinones

Dreamland Book Cover

         Library Guide:


Articles About the Program
Vintage typewriter next to vase of roses
How to Get Involved
abstract people holding hands in a circle

Our goal is to promote literacy and cross-disciplinary discussions, and we invite you to become involved as much or as little as you like.  Some ways to get involved:

  • Teach some or all of the book in your classroom.  Our committee provides resources to help you, including a library guide with research links and topics related to the book as well as teaching lessons and plans.  You can teach the book as part of a semester-long project or as a one-day discussion.  See our current guide for If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face?
  • Encourage your students to attend the events.  We have lectures, film screenings, hikes, and festivals, which can all be enjoyed even if participants haven't read the book.
  • Suggest your own event!  Maybe you don't have the time to teach the book in your course, but you have an idea that somehow links to the concepts in the book.  The 2019-20 selection is Alan Alda's If I Understoof You, Would I Have This Look On My Face?, which relates to improv techniques in the theater as well as communication in the sciences, leadership, and interpersonal relationships.  We’ll help to promote your event.
  • Be creative.  With all of us working together, we have an excellent opportunity to promote conversation, community,  and engagement with our students.  If you have an idea, please share it with us.
  • Join our committee.  Our committee currently consists of librarians, CSN staff and administration, and professors in English, communication, world languages, philosophy, and biology.   
  • Questions, comments, ideas?  Email us! Contact Us 
About the 2019-20 Selection
Book Cover. If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face?

For the 2019-20 academic year, we have chosen Alan Alda's If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face?

"This book is about what we can do about [miscommunication]; about how I learned what I believe is the essential key to good communication, and to relating to one another in a more powerful way. Surprisingly, I found that key in my training and experience as an actor, and it's helped me teach others how to communicate better, especially about things that are difficult to talk about or hard to grasp" (Alda xiv). 

Alda investigates the failures and triumphs in communication, particularly between scientists and laypeople.  Through his own experiences, interviews with experts around the world, and research conducted at The Alan Alda Center For Communicating Science at Stony Brook, Alda shares information about increasing clear communication between speaker and audience through theater improv techniques used to increase empathy. 

Alda's inviting book includes stand-alone chapters for shorter discussions and lessons as well as group and solo activities for increasing empathy.

Join us as we teach and discuss this inspiring book.

Book cover: If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face by Alan Alda

Thank You
thank you word cloud

The One Book/One College (OBOC) committee wishes to send a sincere THANK YOU to everyone who has helped to make this program a possibility. We wouldn't be here without you. Thank you to CAPE, web services, the publicity and events teams, hike leaders, and all administration and faculty who have participated. Thank you also to the students who continue to engage with this material and to add their voices to the conversation.
One Book/One College (OBOC) committee
Specials thanks to those who have put in extra time and effort to help us:
Ashton Ridley
Jann Carson
Carl-Jon Chun
Mike Fite
Eric Garner
Levia Hayes
Ayesha Kidd
Sue Mitchell
Kevin Seiter
Mike Spangler
Lester Tanaka
Michelle Word
Suzan Workman
LaToya Wright

Finally, thank you to Laura McBride and her GiVe group who have graciously supported the program:

One Book/One College (OBOC) committee group photo