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“Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer will be the 2011 summer reading book for incoming students at Carolina and Duke University.

A 21-member selection committee of students, faculty and staff from both universities chose the book from six finalists. Students on the committee described “Eating Animals” as an evenhanded review of the food industry – not a campaign for vegetarianism.

The schools will ask new students who will enroll next fall to read the book this summer and participate in small group discussions during orientation or soon thereafter. The program aims to stimulate critical thinking and give new students intellectual common ground. It encourages them to come to their own conclusions about the material.

Administrators at the two universities decided to consolidate their programs for the first time this year to further strengthen ties between the neighboring campuses. This is UNC’s 13th year with a program and Duke’s 10th.

The committee began its work last fall, when nominations were. UNC heard from 427 people who nominated 316 books; 115 people nominated 77 titles at Duke. Of the total of 393 books suggested, 24 were nominated at both schools.

“‘Eating Animals’ (Little, Brown & Co., 2009) is a narrative that compiles a lot of research about food in general,” said Aviv Sheetrit, a Carolina senior from Cary. “(Foer’s) able to present his information as a body of objective research in regard to our relationship with food.”

UNC’s summer reading program.

Duke’s summer reading program.