By Christy Ulmet
Every Saturday morning during the fall semester, you can find a pack of Trevecca students cycling their way through various neighborhoods in Nashville. Don Kintner, professor of psychology and management & human relations leads the way.
The class is based off of a theme that he calls Gemeinschaft, the German word for close, intimate community. In the class, students learn about various neighborhoods and subcultures by exploring their neighborhoods via bicycle. Kintner began teaching his Urban Sociology class more than 20 years ago, but added the bicycles to the mix in 2010.
“Being on bicycles brings us closer to the neighborhoods we’re in. I call it incidental contact. I ask the students, ‘Would we have had this much contact in a car?’ People are always asking what we’re doing in a group together. We make friends everywhere we go,” he said.
They look for things like pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, bicycle-friendly roadways, public transit accessibility, recreation areas, and more. As a booming city where loads of people are flocking to urban neighborhoods, creating Gemeinschaft within individual neighborhoods throughout Nashville can help bring communities together. The class is just one of the ways Trevecca students have become immersed into the city.
“We talked a lot about how you can’t build a community with people that you don’t know. A neighborhood has to work together to grow and produce to stay alive. It is important to know the businesses and people who make up your community, and it is important to know how a community can sustain itself,” said Julia Stewart, a student from Fall 2014 class.
Stewart decided to take the class because she wanted to spend some time away from the classroom. She said she ended up learning a whole lot more than she expected.
“A lot of people think it is an exercise class, but it’s not. When you are actually on the streets, outside, interacting with people you learn so much more,” she said. “On a bike, you can fully immerse yourself in your surroundings and get the full experience of it. That is the only way to get to know your community; dive right in.”
This article originally appeared on the Trevecca website.