When I started at Northwestern I was struck by the wide variety of courses offered. I came from a high school with classes called “American History” or “Spanish.” But here we have classes as specific as “The Development of the Modern American City” or “Pictures in Latin America.” With these really interesting topics there are plenty of opportunities to hone in on fascinating areas. If I were to develop my own course, I’d create one called, “The Cultural Significance of the Olympics.”

First of all, I think that would be a fascinating course in and of itself. Ava is definitely the blog writer with the higher sports affinity, but I love watching the Olympics. I will watch any event from curling, to track and field, to skiing aerials. I think it really comes down to my passion for the Olympics that make me qualified to lead this sort of course. Here’s a course description of what I’d cover:

General Course Topics: The Cultural Significance of the Olympics is housed in the Sociology department and is offered to students during years when Olympics are occurring. Students will learn some of the general importance of the Olympics in a variety of countries. This will include country pride and support for athletes. Students will also delve into significant events that have occurred at certain Games, including controversies, boycotts, and politics. The course will generally be taught in a discussion style with introductory lectures. Grades are based on participation (20%), a midterm paper (35%) and a final paper (45%).

Guest Speakers: Various people connected to Northwestern will be joining us in class to discuss their experiences with the Olympics. Early in the quarter, Matt Grevers, a former Northwestern swimmer will discuss his experience as an athlete in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. He has six medals, including four gold medals. This includes a gold in the 100-meter backstroke.
Later, Northwestern basketball coach Chris Collins will offer his perspective through his experience with the USA Men’s Basketball Team. This experience includes scouting and on the court coaching during both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics (they won gold both years).
Finally, Athletic Director Dr. Jim Phillips, who served on Chicago’s bid committee for the 2016 Olympics, has been invited. While Chicago was unsuccessful with this bid, his experience would offer a new perspective on the effects of the Olympics on host cities and the selection process.

The great thing about this idea is that a class like this really could exist at Northwestern. With over 4,000 course options, there are all sorts of special topics to delve into.

–Jason Smith

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