NYU Shanghai Reads

What is NYU Shanghai Reads?

NYU Shanghai Reads is a program that brings the NYU Shanghai community together around a single common text chosen to spark intercultural dialogue among members of our diverse community. While serving as a key theme for first-year orientation, the whole university community is also welcome to participate through a series of events throughout the academic year.


Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, by Robert Wall Kimmerer, is the NYU Shanghai Reads Selection for 2024-2025

As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take us on “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Elizabeth Gilbert).

Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings–asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass–offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. In reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.

Read more about the author by visiting her website.

Accessing the Book via the NYU Shanghai Library

Additional Reading Resources

Access a Zotero collection inspired by Braiding Sweetgrass here. It's a great place to start if you want to read more about the themes in book.

Not sure where to start in the book? Have a chat with our Poe chatbot. It can help you find a chapter that you will enjoy! (Requires Google, Apple, or email login.)

Upcoming Events

Upcoming programming events around the book will be updated soon before the Fall 2024 semester starts.