Short courses break away and build on the big bike race

August 17, 2015

VCU faculty from various disciplines and points of view are offering short topics courses tied to the UCI Road World Championships. The deadline for registration is Aug. 24; courses end by Oct. 9. Most of the courses are online. Six are graded courses. Most are pass-fail. No one can enroll in all of the courses. But, you can explore the range of topics offered--including physics, culture, safety, strategy and the business side of cycling--on your own through VCU Libraries. Below, we review the course list and offer a book, e-source or other reading or resource related to each learning experience. 

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  • Adaptive Response Modeling Using GIS (UNIV 291 Sec 040) Love maps? Use phones as navigators? This learning adventure will tackle geographic information systems (GIS) and help students to get a bird’s-eye view of the race. This geographic-information-systems research guide has the background you need to get started.
  • Anthropology of Crowds (UNIV 291 Sec 030) Humans come in many shapes and sizes and behave in an infinite number of ways. How do anthropologists study and analyze this amazing diversity and variety? Class members will study the race crowd, using the four fields of anthropology--archaeology and biological, linguistic and sociocultural anthropology--to discover how they represent the great diversity of humanity. See the anthropology and archaeology research guide for background.
  • Bicycle Urbanism (UNIV 291 Sec 031) Students will evaluate conditions in RVA and propose ways to make the city more bicycle friendly. They will document challenges to bicycle travel and identify best practices. The best concepts will be selected for presentation at the Bicycle Urbanism Symposium, which will be held on campus September 28-29. The recently published book City Cycling describes how cities can promote bicycling as a sustainable transportation alternative available to everyone.
  • The Big Win: Corporate Social Responsibility (UNIV 291 Sec 047) Students will explore the concept of corporate social responsibility through the lens of the bike race. Considering volunteerism, sponsorships and more, they will evaluate, through readings and observation, the tensions and contradictions of fulfilling both social and organizational aims. Use these resources pertaining to the social responsibility of businesses to gain more insight.
  • Bike Athlete Performance (UNIV 291 Sec 032) This course will focus on nutritional and training practices of cyclists competing in the UCI race. See the diet and nutrition research guide for resources on this topic.
  • Bike Race Magazine (CMST 391 Sec 004) Students will write narratives, take photos and design and illustrate a publication that will capture the emotions, events and scenes of the bike race. The text “Magazine Design that Works: Secrets for Successful Magazine Design” may offer inspiration.
  • Crowdsourcing the Worlds (UNIV 291 Sec 033) This course will task students with finding stories--interesting and enlightening facts about people, events, trends and other things--related to the bike race. They will use Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, Storify and other media platforms to share these stories with the public. Use “The Changing Faces of Journalism: Tabloidization, Technology and Truthiness” for background.
  • Cycling and Film (UNIV 291 Sec 037) Cycling and Film puts the bike race in a global context through the examination of international films on the subject of cycling and the simultaneous creation of visual and audio products. Film will serve as a stimulus to produce visual and audio commentary and interpretation of the race experience. Most of VCU Libraries’ films on this topic are on reserve for this course. Search on your own through Film Indexes Online.
  • Cycling Through History (UNIV 291 Sec 001) Online newspapers and magazines from the 1880s to today will provide source material for students to explore how cycling diets and drugs, fashion and public infrastructure have changed. Students will also consider class, race and gender. They will observe the bike race and write about what they see, gaining skills in online research, analyzing evidence, summarizing evidence and writing. Find newspapers from 1836-1922 in the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America or the New York Times Archive.
  • Diversity, Culture and Bicycling (UNIV 291 Sec 034) This course will introduce students to short introductory readings on diversity and cycling in the American South since World War II. These readings will serve as a catalyst to encourage students to act as citizen journalists, sociologists and/or cultural historians in chronicling changes in the culture of cycling. Explore the culture in this selected reading: “The Anthropology of Sport.”
  • Event Planning and Promotion (UNIV 291 Sec 041) Event sponsorship builds brand awareness and reaches a large audience. What does it take to draw in corporate sponsors and donors? Use the Warc database for insight into advertising and marketing trends.
  • Field of Observation Class for Incident Management (UNIV 391 Sec 007) Students will be trained in the job of field observation and work in teams. Refer to National Incident Management System to understand better the steps that go into incident management. This source is available through the VCU Federal Depository Library Program Government Documents.
  • Guile, Hubris and Teamwork (UNIV 291 Sec 044) Treachery, gentrification, gender inequality, economic booms and busts--nothing in bike racing is as simple as it seems. In the field, observing the races, students will keep track of connections between national and pro teams, tracing gender inequality, sussing out such things as class distinctions and figuring out how to best share the data afterwards. Need help with data visualization, concept mapping, spreadsheets, network analysis and other methods? Use the research-data-management guide to assist you with this subject. Lots of references and background material on the course. 
  • Local Dialogue on UCI Impact (CMST 391 Sec 003) Students will meet with community members to conduct field research. The class will be guided by readings of sociological research/theory and the real-life Richmond Anti-poverty Commission Report.
  • Mapping the Race (ARTS 291 Sec 003) Students will document the race course and its surrounding areas in a media format of their choice. Projects will be on display in an exhibit featured at the Depot. Want an historic perspective? Refer to this 1889 Richmond Baist Atlas, part of VCU Libraries Digital Collections.
  • Motivation and Performance (UNIV 291 Sec 035) Extraordinary performance demands inspiration, persistence, goal-setting and more. This course examines those elements. How do people get inspired? How do they deal with setbacks? How do people help others (or hinder them) as they strive? For insight, read the text for the course: "Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength" by Roy F. Baumeister. The 2011 book is found on the first floor, Cabell Library, (BF632 .B292 2011).
  • Nature and Nurture of Sports Performance (UNIV 291 Sec 002) Are world-class athletes born or raised? Are some people successful because they have natural talent, while others are successful because they work and practice hard? Can hard work help people overcome their basic biology to become super-athletes? The primary goal of this course is to expose students to the ways scientists try to disentangle genetic and environmental influences on human behavior. Course materials include selected chapters from David Epstein’s New York Times bestseller “The Sports Gene,” scientific articles, podcasts and videos.   
  • New Media Photojournalism (UNIV 291 Sec 042) Creating a powerful image no longer requires that a photojournalist carry a bag of expensive cameras, lenses and tripods. Smartphones and handheld devices have changed the way people can create and share engaging stories. Students will use mobile devices to explore and experiment with apps for visual storytelling. Flip through “Photography” and get inspired by works done by many young photographers.
  • The Physics of Bicycling (UNIV 291 Sec 043) Students will use interactive simulations to explore the basic principles of motion involved in bicycling, such as steady motion and acceleration. This introduces important concepts of physics, such as kinematics, angular momentum, work and energy. During the bike race, students will use mobile phones and other electronic devices to record data and calculate velocities and accelerations of riders at various points in the race. Use “How Things Work: The Physics of Life” to get a better grasp of biking and how it works.
  • The Poetics of Public Space (UNIV 291 Sec 045) Participants will create a collaborative rhythmanalysis of Richmond during the race. Rhythmanalysis entails careful observation of the patterns and rhythms that structure the ways people interact with and move through public space. This course will be great for students coming from the social sciences, arts or humanities who want to explore creative ways to think about and engage with public spaces. Explore for software and techniques or refer to this post from 50+ Ways to learn about softwares.
  • Race, Gender and Cycling (UNIV 291 Sec 039) In many representations of bicycle culture, the default identity is a straight, white, born-male, able-bodied person. Participants in this course will be invited to think critically about the intersections of cycling/cycle culture, race, gender, sexuality and ability. How can people change the conversation about who "cyclists" are? Find useful information regarding gender studies using GenderWatch.
  • Racing to Health (UNIV 291 Sec 049) What does it mean to be fit? Is it necessary to be a professional athlete to enjoy the health benefits of fitness? This course is designed as a personal health journey. Want to know more? Visit the Community Health Education Center, VCU Libraries’ consumer health library in the Gateway Hospital.
  • Social Media and Events (CMST 391 Sec 002) How can public relations be used to promote events as well as foster volunteer participation? This course will guide students through the use of public relations tactics to answer this question. Use ABI/Inform to access articles from major publications including scholarly articles on public relations.
  • Social Media Immersion Experience (UNIV 291 Sec 028) The bike race offers students a learning lab about how to promote, in real-time, both the race and VCU’s prominent role on the world stage. As part of VCU's social media team, students will be on-site at race events, crafting visually oriented posts on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Blog posts will populate a class website and be aggregated for the Great VCU Bike Race Book site. Along with smartphones, use "The Art of Social Media" by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick, which is available through Interlibrary Loan. 
  • Teamwork and Racing (UNIV 291 Sec 029) What is the culture behind world-class racing? How do these racers work for and against each other? What are cycling’s unique group dynamics. These are the primary questions underlying this course. One resource to consider: a TED talk on the cycling culture.
  • The Tour and the Worlds (UNIV 291 Sec 048) This course has as its topic the role of cycling in French culture and includes a focus on the Tour de France and French champions. Students will follow the team of their choice and cyclists who speak the language they are studying at VCU. Students will blog and tweet during the race to provide updates on their chosen athletes. For general resources, in English and French: Discover the background of the Tour de France in “The Tour de France, 1903-2003." The bicycle was featured prominently as a metaphor for the French way of life in Jacques Tati’s “Jour de fête”, which is in the video collection.
  • UCI and Entrepreneurship (UNIV 291 Sec 036) The bike race presents a backdrop for street-level research and preparation for pitching an idea for a business start-up. See the VCU Libraries Entrepreneurship Research Guide to stay knowledgeable on all things business.
  • Urban Biking Benefits (CMST 391 Sec 001) Through group bike rides and community conversation, students will investigate urban biking benefits, explore bike infrastructure and learn the basics of community-engaged research (CEnR). Students will use a CEnR approach to investigate the current state of biking on campus and collect data on biking usage and infrastructure to update the VCU State of Cycling Report. The 2010 VCU SCR provides data on bicycling trends on the two VCU campuses. Students will also participate in the Worlds by serving at the bike valet and promoting bike parking. Bikes are required for this course. Bicycles are available for checkout at VCU Libraries. 
  • Visualizing a Wired World’s Past (UNIV 291 Sec 046) This course draws on archaeology, art and history to explore the shared humanity of the bike race participants and the VCU community. Students will learn and apply methods and techniques of capturing digital cultural heritage and how to integrate history, archaeology and art research in succinct summaries. Each participant will create visual reflections of cultural heritage through online exhibits of 3D digital models and physical exhibits of 3D-printed objects. Need a 3D printer? Innovative Media has one.
  • What is Safe Cycling? (UNIV 291 Sec 038) Can helmet laws reduce brain injuries for bicyclists? Would cyclists be safer if they were required to wear protective clothing? Do bike lanes improve the safety of bicyclists? Are protected bike lanes safer than paint-only bike lanes? If you asked cyclists, civil engineers and safety advocates these seemingly simple questions, you would not receive a simple or uniform "yes"/"no" answer from them. In this class, students will explore how the different perspectives that people bring to these problems influence the way they approach bicycle safety and the evidence they present. “Net Smart: How to Survive and Thrive on the Internet,” one inspiration for course participants, describes strategies for harnessing the power of online information and communities while filtering out distraction, misinformation and disinformation.
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