New Tech minor focuses on “major leagues”

Photo courtesy of Johnny Smith

Students may have noticed a new minor gracing Tech’s online minor offering page: the Sports, Society, and Technology (SST) minor. A 15 hour undergraduate minor, the SST minor began offering classes for the 2014-2015 academic year. With 15 students currently enrolled, the minor was created with a clear purpose in mind.

“The SST minor is consistent with Tech’s strategic plan which calls for flexible curriculum with interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary collaborations. As an international city, Atlanta is a hub of college and professional sport, recreational opportunities, and health professions—offering a distinctive laboratory for students to apply what they learn beyond classroom settings,” Dr. Mary McDonald, Director of the SST minor, said. “In short, Tech is uniquely positioned to offer this interdisciplinary minor.”

With three to five SST courses offered each semester, the courses generally fill early during the registration period. According to Dr. McDonald, HTS 2015, History of Sports in America, is a popular course with nearly 100 students enrolled every semester.

“Professor Johnny Smith teaches this course using sports as tools to better understand U.S. history and to show the impact that sports and sporting figures have had on U.S. culture,” Dr. McDonald said. “One example …  is his discussion of baseball player Jackie Robinson who helped to integrate Major League Baseball during the Civil Rights Era.”

Students also seem to enjoy the courses offered by the SST major while strongly recommending the major to other students interested in sports.

“I have only taken one class for my minor which is HTS 3075, Foundations of Sports Studies, taught by Dr. Jennifer Sterling. She has incorporated many aspects of sports from biographies to science which greatly interests me,” Nasya Paul, a second-year BME major and SST minor student, said. “I would definitely recommend the minor to other students who are interested in sports and the relation of sports to basically any major.”

With Tech proclaiming a “[commitment] to developing partnerships and collaborative projects in order to enhance a diverse community of students, faculty, and industry stakeholders” regarding SST, the university is currently undergoing efforts to make this mission a reality.

“We are working to create internship opportunities within Atlanta for SST students and are also in the process of establishing a research center to facilitate collaboration among faculty researchers at Georgia Tech and in the Atlanta area,” Dr. McDonald said. “Additionally, the program continues to serves as a type of ‘clearing house’ via the SST webpage which lists members about local sports-related academic events and opportunities.”

Paul agrees with Dr. McDonald’s assessment, as she feels “the SST minor is a great avenue to many jobs in the sports industry.” She chose the major because she “wanted to find a way to set [herself] apart from other BME students while taking classes that [she] would really enjoy.”

In the past, the SST minor has helped sponsor panels in discussing topics, such as the Russia Winter Olympics and the Brazil FIFA World Cup. In the future, Dr. McDonald shared that she hopes to increase SST’s presence at FASET.

Dr. McDonald helps “develop, promote, and grow the SST program” with regards to the minor and the research center. She hopes to “ensure the humanistic and social science perspectives are at the heart of this research center initiative.”