Almost from the moment I got to Bethel University (sixteen years ago!), I started dreaming about developing two new courses. The one on World War II launched five years ago, with its fourth iteration starting next week. But aside from one independent study, I’ve never quite been able to follow through with a History of Baseball class.
So I’m happy to report that a year from now, my colleague Chris Moore and I will premiere a new gen ed course, HIS/POS252L History and Politics of Sports. Here’s the initial draft of our syllabus:
Above all else, I’m excited to teach with Chris, the 2018 winner of our faculty excellence award for teaching. While I fear that I’m in for a semester full of Ohio State boosterism, Chris is a good friend, a master of integrating discussion and simulation into the classroom, and an expert in international relations — which will come in handy during our “third quarter,” when we take a more global view of sports and have students simulate an International Olympic Committee bidding process.
I hasten to emphasize that neither of us is an expert in the history or politics of sports. But we’re eager to use our own interest in sports to help a wide range of Bethel students consider topics like race, gender, labor, business, public policy, diplomacy, and religion from a different perspective. That goal is all the more important because we work at a small university where (Division III) athletics is increasingly important to the student experience and how Bethel presents itself to constituents. We won’t shy away from asking hard questions about the role of sports in higher education, but we also want to use this course to help build bridges between academics and athletics.
Again, we’re a year away from actually teaching HIS/POS252L. So to help us think through assignments, readings, guest speakers, and other aspects of the course, Chris and I are launching a new weekly podcast with our friend Sam Mulberry: The 252 will feature conversations and interviews on sports past, present, and future. Look for a Super Bowl-themed preview episode to drop later this week, with regular episodes running throughout our spring semester!
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