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The campus community is invited to celebrate this year’s Life of the Mind program reading selection—Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel—by participating in a special First-Year Studies escape room in Hodges Library.

The escape room was the brainstorm of Assistant Director of First-Year Studies Stella Bridgeman-Prince and Assistant Professor of UT Libraries Ingrid Ruffin. They enlisted the help of Escape Game Knoxville to design the room, which will be open from August 19 to September 1 in the Mary Greer Room in Hodges Library.

Students, faculty, and staff are invited to play in groups. Single players will be paired with others to form teams of six.

Each game is designed to last about 30 minutes. Reserve your session online beginning August 14.

“Escape rooms are an international phenomenon,” Ruffin said. “You are locked into a room and your job is to solve a bunch of puzzles that lead to a code that allows you to escape.”

Ruffin said reading the book—an award-winning science fiction novel set during and after a fictional swine flu pandemic—is key to being successful in the game.

“This challenge will add an extra level of interaction and learning with the Life of the Mind selection for 2017,” says Bridgeman-Prince. “Not only will reading the book give students an edge in finding that code, but actively problem solving as a group builds community from the first week they step on campus.”

The escape room is built as if it were an abandoned house and set in the time after society is starting to recover from the flu pandemic. Participants will have to interact with items in the house in order to escape.

“It goes along with the book’s theme that you’ve got to do more than just survive; you’ve got to thrive,” Ruffin said.

Other Life of the Mind events are planned throughout the semester.

St. John Mandel will speak on campus at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, November 13, in Cox Auditorium in Alumni Memorial Building.

Students, faculty, and staff will be invited to participate in discussion sessions on campus that are being coordinated though Knox Reads, Knox County Public Library’s annual effort to encourage the entire community to read the same book. This year, Knox Reads is also using Station Eleven. Discussion session dates and times will be announced in September.