Last quarter I applied and was accepted into UCLA’s innovative Undergraduate Student Initiated Education (USIE) program, which allows upperclassmen to develop and facilitate seminars on topics of their choice, with the close supervision of a faculty mentor. The course I proposed is called “Controversies in College Athletics: Race, Politics, Gender, and Beyond” and uses UCLA’s storied athletic history as a jumping-off point to examine various cultural, economic, and sociopolitical issues in college sports.

An excerpt from my course description:

“Beginning with a short review of UCLA Athletics and its notables, we will quickly dive into a series on historical issues, dealing with issues of race (When and why did black athletes get to start playing?) and politics (Are sporting events an appropriate stage for political demonstration?) in college sports. The latter portion of the class will focus on the issues of today, from the fall of the amateur student-athlete (To what standard should we hold our Cam Newton’s and Reggie Bush’s?) to gender inequality (How has Title IX impacted the landscape of college athletics?) to the economics of college sports (Should a/our football coach really be making four million dollars a year?). Issues of fund-raising (Did Joe Paterno run Penn State because of the money he brought in?) and media coverage (How should the Duke lacrosse scandal change the way we view our news sources?) in college sports will also be addressed.”

We are currently sharing and reviewing syllabi in the pedagogy class that all facilitators are taking this quarter, and let me say, the seminars to be offered in the spring will be amazing. There are classes on restaurants in art museums, religious conversion techniques in Latin America, comic book superheroes and physics – the list goes on and on, with each course more fascinating than the last.

Let me close with a few suggestions for my fellow collegians:

First, enroll in USIE seminars next quarter! Any questions you may have should be answered here, and a schedule of seminars offered should be posted here shortly.

Second, consider applying to the program next fall! Watch one former facilitator describe her experiences in USIE.

Lastly, a shameless plug: My seminar will be offered in the Department of Political Science (88SA, I think) next quarter on Thursdays from 1 to 2 PM in Bunche 4357. I hope to see some of you there!