University of Richmond faculty offer glimpses into unique classes

July 17, 2020

Spider Pride

More than a dozen faculty have provided a glimpse into a unique class they teach. Their topics range from the secret life of books to the chemistry of cooking to music as medicine.  

They share their insights through a feature called “Back to Class,” which appears in the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Discover Richmond magazine. The question and answer approach of the section allows the newspaper to introduce UR faculty in a conversational way. Faculty provide their answers about the classes as if they were conversing with a curious parent on parents’ weekend.  

This combination of format and tone makes wisdom feel relatable,” said Lewis Brissman, editor of Discover Richmond.  

Kevin Cruz, assistant professor of management, discussed his course, “Managing Groups and Teams.” The Back to Class feature allows researchers, like myself, to share the knowledge we have gained through our own research to help citizens in the Richmond metro area improve their own lives, to gain knowledge about something they already have an interest in, or to spark an interest in something new,” Cruz said. “Simply put, everyone benefits from the partnership. 

One of my greatest joys in the classroom is seeing the lightbulbs go on as students make personal connections with our course material, and having my Gut Feeling course featured in a Back to Class story allowed that joy to expand beyond reaching my students to include members of our local community,” said Jennifer O’Donnell, manager of the biological laboratories. “In addition to my desire to always share the excitement of science and curiosity, I hope I left readers with some deeper understanding of daily occurrences in their own digestive tracts, as well as an eagerness to pay attention to future headlines as doctors and scientists continue to learn more about the biology of humans.” 

The partnership began a few years ago with the thought of including a few articles over the course of one summer, but once the editor realized the benefit to readers, it has continued with no plans to end the seriesOf the partnership, Brissman said, “I had long viewed UR, with its rich tradition of the liberal arts, as a resource that could be tapped in a different and engaging way.”  

Recognizing that the liberal arts allows connections to be made among disciplines, Brissman said, he was confident that the general-interest readers of the Richmond Times-Dispatch would welcome the faculty insights.   

Tlearn more about these classes, visit the University newsroom where all of the “Back to Class” articles are posted.