Over 2,500 free copies of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s book, Ethics for the New Millennium, will be distributed in the Davidson Library today to kick off the third annual UCSB Reads.

All students are invited to the main lobby of the library beginning at 8 a.m. to try and score a complimentary copy. Discounted books will also be available at the UCSB Bookstore.

An annual project spearheaded by the Davidson Library, UCSB Reads is a program that distributes copies of a book selected for its relevance to UCSB’s academic strengths and priorities. Since “Ethics. Beyond ourselves.” is the official theme of this year’s UCSB Reads, Ethics for the New Millennium was chosen to demonstrate the application of ethics in modern life. Additionally, the book will compliment His Holiness’ visit to UCSB on April 24 for two lectures.

At the project’s kick-off ceremony last week, Wade Clark Roof, a professor of religious studies, said both the book and the program address important questions raised by what ethics should mean to a citizen of the world.

“The challenge in our global world is to cultivate consciousness of our relationships with other people,” Roof said. “We need to ask ourselves, are we genuinely connected as human beings? How can we build these deeper human bonds?”

Kimberly Thompson, Davidson Library director of development and outreach, said this year’s campaign topic and selected work were chosen in part to coincide with His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s upcoming trip to UCSB.

“His visit here is a great honor for our campus and our community,” Thompson said. “The book dovetailed nicely with a theme we felt was of utmost importance.”

Co-chair of the UCSB Reads committee Janet Martorana said the strength of this year’s theme was its broadness, as it applies to and draws expertise from a wide variety of academic fields on campus.

“Interdisciplinary research and teaching is an emphasis of our campus, and the discussion of how ethical concerns apply to broader areas in education, science, business, law, etc., is a part of that,” Martorana said. “With this year’s theme, we can again draw upon broad faculty expertise in diverse fields such as philosophy, religious studies, global studies, environmental studies and the life sciences, and bring the faculty into the community to discuss relevant issues around this theme.”

In a statement at the kick-off ceremony, Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas referred to the UCSB Reads program as a unique opportunity for students to engage with a reading that focuses on humanities rather than the sciences.

“It is not a book on religion or politics,” Lucas said. “It is a book on social conscience and life philosophy,”

In addition to the Dalai Lama’s lectures and free book, UCSB Reads will also feature a series of open conversations at Davidson and other libraries in the area. A schedule of upcoming events can be found online at http://ucsbreads.library.ucsb.edu/index.html.