Higher Education Gobbledy-Gook

I would be hard pressed to come up with a bigger waste of money or time than a new program at Drake University described over at InsideHigherEd today:

Drake University’s football team will travel to Tanzania next month to play what many believe will be the first intercollegiate American football game ever on the continent of Africa. On May 21, the Bulldogs will play a game in the town of Arusha, on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, against a team of all-star American football players from an athletic conference of Mexican universities. After the game, the football players will do community service projects in and around Moshi—including building an addition to a local orphanage—stage a football clinic for local youth, and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro as teams. All the while, Drake’s football players will be taking a for-credit course on leadership and emotional intelligence with top faculty.

As if Drake isn’t already blowing enough money on its football program, now it needs to add this $4,000 a person trip to the bottom line. And the idea that students are going to get credit for playing football in Africa and doing some token community service. Come on, people. A class on leadership and emotional intelligence? This reads like a parody of everything that has been added on to college these days but has nothing to do with academics—overpriced athletics, service learning, leadership training, international encounters.

But wait, there is of course a theory behind the madness.

“We’re challenging ourselves to integrate higher learning into sport itself, so that you actually study sport and leadership,” Clubb explained. “We want to take sports and create an experiential-based learning opportunity for our student-athletes. We want our coaches to integrate leadership learning into what they’re already doing as coaches. We spend millions a year on sports. That’s an incredible amount of money. We shouldn’t leave to chance that students are going to intellectualize it. Let’s make athletics truly co-curricular. Let’s look at the sports experience as something for athletes to study and understand in the context of higher education.

Maybe you can turn it into a major and create some more ridiculous courses so that future athletes can get even less of an education by taking them.

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