Press Release for Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Best-Selling 'Freakonomics' Author to Speak at UNF

Contact: Joanna Norris, Assistant Director
Department of Media Relations and Events
(904) 620-2102

Steven Levitt, prominent economist and best-selling author of “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything,” will speak at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 28, at the UNF Arena.

“An Evening with Steven Levitt” is a UNF Presidential Lecture and is free and open to the public. Tickets are available today and can be reserved online at by clicking on the Fall Lectures link or by phone at (904) 620-2117.

Levitt’s book, which sold more than 3 million copies and spent two years on The New York Times best-seller list, is co-authored with Stephen J. Dubner. “Freakonomics” uses economics to explore the hidden side of such diverse subjects as why the crime rate dropped in the 1990s, why drug dealers live with their mothers and whether real estate agents really work for the best interests of their clients.

Levitt has appeared widely on television and maintains the popular “Freakonomics” blog, which can be found on The New York Times Web site. Winner of the 2003 John Bates Clark Medal, Levitt is currently the Alvin H. Baum Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago and editor of the Journal of Political Economy.

UNF freshmen are preparing for the author’s fall visit by reading Levitt and Dubner’s book, which was part of a mandatory summer reading assignment before classes began. “Freakonomics” is the first book selected for UNF Reads, the University’s new common reading program for freshmen. UNF is among more than 200 colleges and universities nationwide to initiate a common reading program. Each university selects one book each year and has every freshman read it during the summer before arriving on campus. The book can be fiction or non-fiction and range from best sellers to the classics.

The program is designed to help introduce freshmen to college-level academic inquiry, create a university-wide learning community and give students opportunities to engage in academic discourse. UNF Reads is patterned after the most successful common reading programs, which integrate the book into student orientations, group discussions and the classroom.

This fall, UNF began a campus-wide discussion of Levitt and Dubner’s book during the Week of Welcome for freshmen and will be followed by other activities and events, such as discussion groups, throughout the semester. All freshman composition professors have also incorporated “Freakonomics” into their lesson plans for the upcoming year.

UNF’s General Education Council, which oversees the University’s general education programs, selected the book from suggestions submitted by about 50 faculty and staff.