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Course Description

How are sports reflective of the society in which they are played? How have athletes used their platform to challenge prevailing norms and politics in their communities and around the globe? While sports are usually seen as an “escape from the real world,” athletes have a unique position in society to advocate for social change, either within the athletic organizations in which they play (for integration or equal pay), in society at large (against racism or discrimination), or for a range of international political issues (against apartheid, Cold War). Using primary sources, films, and historical texts, this course reflects on a range of contemporary social, political, and cultural issues that explain how sports cannot be separated from the societal context in which they are embedded. Through discussion and case studies, students will use sports as a lens to understand international history, the sociology of advocacy movements, and the evolution of political protest around the globe.

Debbie Sharnak is a lecturer at Harvard University in the History and Literature Department. She has worked at many nonprofits such as the New Media Advocacy Project and the International Center for Transitional Justice and has remained involved in connecting her research to public policy and NGO work. She received her MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Affiliated With:

School of Arts & Sciences