Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Kinesiology and Sport Studies

Major Professor

Joy T. DeSensi

Committee Members

Allison D. Anders, Lars Dzikus, Dulcie Peccolo


The purpose of this study was to explore the connections between Sport for Development and Peace (SDP), service-learning, and community-university partnerships through the implementation of the Service-Learning: Sport and Community Development (SCD) class. It was my hope that this research would produce a usable model, a framework for other scholars and practitioners interested in developing community-university partnerships. I wanted this project to not only answer the “why” questions for SDP and service-learning, but also the “how” questions – specifically, how to create a reflexive and collaborative partnership that balances the needs of the community and university. I wanted to create something riveting and real, something inspiring and authentic, and something more inclusive than a first-person programmer or instructor account of the experience (Darnell, 2007; Eyler & Giles, 1999; Millington, 2010; Stoecker & Tryon, 2009).

Much like the goals of the class, this research was designed to stimulate and encourage others to move toward a more critical and engaged community agenda. To do that, I needed to create a research text that readers could “keep in their minds and feel in their bodies the complexities of concrete moments of lived experience” (Ellis, 2004, p. 30). For that reason, I chose narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000) as the primary method of representation, coupled with performance narratives (Denzin, 2003) and poetics (Glesne, 2006; Ely, 2007).

Based on the data collected from 49 qualitative interviews, 500 pages worth of reflective journals, and 200 pages of electronically recorded field notes, I created a visual community-university partnership model that illustrates the connections between SDP and service-learning as implemented in the SCD class. In addition to the visual model, I constructed narratives to detail the progression of the SCD experience over time, beginning with the common language of sport and ending in complete investment and reciprocity. As a result of this research, it has become clear that if implemented with intentionality, careful consideration, community collaboration, and reflexivity, that sport-based service-learning initiatives can enhance student learning, improve community welfare, and strengthen ties between the community and the university.

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