Course Highlight: Engaging Students in Research and a Critical Examination of Sport

Submitted by Catherine M. Zeigler on
Photo of Dr. Logan and Dr. Barker teaching Anth 213 together

by Holly Barker and Alvin Logan

For the past three years, Dr. Alvin Logan, II, has been teaching the very popular Anthropology of Sport (ANTH 213) course in the Department of Anthropology. Dr. Logan brings experiences in sport and research to his teaching, along with a passion for making research accessible to all students. 

As an undergraduate at UW, Dr. Logan played on the UW football team, and after receiving his BA entered into an MA program in the UW College of Education. During his time as a Master’s student, he and Dr. Holly Barker developed a class to introduce students to research and critical sport studies, a class that gave many student-athletes an opportunity to participate in research as part of their collegiate experience.

Dr. Logan continued his studies at University of Texas at Austin for his PhD in Education with an emphasis on cultural studies. His PhD research critiques the power dynamics and institutional racism of the NCAA, and calls for a transformation of practices to better support student-athletes. Although his graduate work is in the field of education, Dr. Logan’s work intersects well with the theories and practices of anthropology. As Dr. Logan notes: “The culture of sport is extremely influential on our society. When situated in anthropology, we can use the discipline’s frameworks to examine medical implications (i.e. concussions, opioid use, and mental health) without losing focus on the challenges of gender and sexuality expression — we tie these ideas to the mission of deconstructing colonial influences and forces in sport and beyond.”

Since returning to the University of Washington, Dr. Logan and Dr. Barker continue to team up to engage students in critical thinking and research. Dr. Logan’s large ANTH 213 lecture course emphasizes the ways sport reflects issues of coloniality, gender, race, class, ethnicity, ableism, religion, citizenship, culture and more. The course also fosters academic relationships between student-athletes and non-student-athletes with a goal of increasing community, cross-cultural empathy, and self-efficacy for all students. 

In the current iteration of their collaboration, Dr. Barker teaches an introduction to research course for a subset of students in ANTH 213 so students can learn about the topics from Dr. Logan, and have a chance to pursue their own interests in research with Dr. Barker. Dr. Barker is thrilled to have Dr. Logan teaching ANTH 213 because “Dr. Logan’s research and first-hand experiences in sport enable students to see anthropology in their everyday lives through the lens of sport. We are so fortunate to have Dr. Logan teaching this course!” 

This spring, Dr. Logan accepted a new position as the Director of Education at the Burke Museum where Dr. Barker is a Curator for Oceanic and Asian Culture. Dr. Logan and Dr. Barker are already looking into opportunities to extend their collaborations, including through study abroad and museum-related education and research. 

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