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Class registration day, a time much like The Hunger Games, leaves every student for themselves, fighting to try and get into that one class with the professor who hands out easy A’s and doesn’t take attendance. But what if you could create your own class, one that you would actually want to go to every day, and one that everyone around you also wanted to be in. This is exactly what Jesse Chorng and Elliot Curtis did when they turned their love of sneakers into a college accredited course called Sneakerology.
The duo started Sneakerology 101 in 2008 while attending prestigious Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, not exactly the type of school that brings the word sneakers to mind. The course explores sneaker culture from its roots in New York City, to shoe design, marketing, manufacturing, and child labor issues. It provides a great opportunity for students who are interested in the sneaker industry to learn more about what goes down. The sneaker industry in the US was $22 billion market in 2013. The industry has grown steadily for more than a decade. Since 2004, the sneaker market in the US has grown by 30% and the international industry grew by 40%. (Forbes Magazine)
Carnegie Mellon delivers Sneakerology through the school’s Student College or StuCo, a program that lets students explore and teach subjects not available through regular university offerings. A typical overview of the course will take you from exploring the history of the Air Jordan, to designing your own sneaker. Students dream up their own unique sneaker, even getting into the materials that must be used and discussion on what inspired the shoe. An example of a final exam for Sneakerology was when students took part in “Kicksburgh” a campus sneaker social event backed by the two founders of the course.
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When Chorng and Curtis founded the course, they wanted to stress the importance of wearing footwear that you like that says something about your culture or your personality. They stress that what really matters is choosing a shoe that is an accurate reflection of who you are, not just a hyped release that everyone else likes.
Since the course is catered towards such a unique niche of students, you would think that getting into the class would be easy, but that is definitely not the case. From the start the class was very successful, and once it reached its cap had a waiting list of 50,000 students. The course still attracts many students today, and is inspiring sneaker enthusiasts all over the Carnegie campus. So who knows what’s next, maybe a major focusing solely on sneakers? Maybe Sneakernomics?
Student at Bryant University. Interested in fashion and urban photography.