Sunday, April 7, 2013

How I became a Duke student

I've crossed over to The Dark Side: I'm a Duke student. Well, kinda.

In a fit of boredom at 1:35 a.m. Sunday, I signed up for my first Coursera class, "Sports and Society." Coursera is a website that offers massive open online courses (MOOCs) taught by professors from universities around the world.

Anyone can sign up for the course for free. It's taught with recorded video lectures, online discussion boards and Google Hangouts. It doesn't count for college credit, but you get a certificate of completion (yipee!). I've read about MOOCs and have wanted to try one. When I looked through the course listing, "Sports and Society" seemed like something that would both interest me and possibly help with my work.

Orin Starn, a professor and chair of the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Duke, teaches the class. Starn also recently wrote a book about Tiger Woods. It's listed as optional reading.

From the course description:

"Sports play a giant role in contemporary society worldwide. But few of us pause to think about the larger questions of money, politics, race, sex, culture, and commercialization that surround sports everywhere. This course draws on the tools of anthropology, sociology, history, and other disciplines to give you new perspectives on the games we watch and play. We will focus on both popular sports like soccer (or “football,” as anyone outside America calls it), basketball, and baseball, and also lesser-known ones like mountain-climbing and fishing. Special guests will include former major league baseball player and ESPN commentator Doug Glanville; leading sports journalist Selena Roberts; and sports studies experts David Andrews, Grant Farred, and Katya Wesolowski. You will never watch or think about sports in the same way again."

Seems interesting enough. And it's free, so it can't hurt. The class starts April 30 and is seven weeks long, with regular readings and homework assignments in addition to the video lectures and guest speakers.

I will post any interesting things I come across on the blog. I'm mostly interested in seeing just how these things work. If I like it, maybe I'll also become a Stanford student. Or a Johns Hopkins student. I'm gonna make Momma so proud.

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