For more than 20 years The University of Sunderland has earned a reputation for leading the field in sports science through its teaching excellence, research and partnerships with regional and national sporting organisations such as Sunderland Football Club and Durham County Cricket Club.
Due to its high profile, last year Sunderland was selected by academics from Berry College in Georgia to be part of a fact-finding visit to universities across the UK. Berry College have been cultivating their own sports science department for the past eight years.
Sunderland’s research, teaching and facilities left such an impression on the team from Berry that the two institutions have forged an agreement to develop links and create research opportunities, as well as offering exciting exchange partnerships for staff, and students.
This month saw the arrival of Dr David Elmer, Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at Berry College as part of the University’s commitment to exchanging ideas. The University of Sunderland’s Sciences Complex provided the perfect backdrop as academics exchanged research and showcased the facilities and teaching methods. This visit was in response to last year’s visit to Berry College when the University of Sunderland were invited to send a representative, Morc Coulson, a Sports and Exercise lecturer, to promote relations, deliver lectures to students and take advantage of the College’s 5,300 acres.
Morc said: “We are building partnership links to broaden both institutions’ academic experience for our staff and students through the exchange of knowledge and research. I got so much out of my own exchange visit and was access to Berry’s facilities, staff and students which is a fantastic institution, and very much places an emphasis on the broader education, developing students as well-rounded individuals with skills that go beyond the academic, reflecting our own shared values here at Sunderland.”
Dr Elmer commented: “Our Sport Science programme at Berry is still relatively new, but the student interest has grown considerably and the department has expanded. Combining an interest in science and sport is a huge draw, and we also have a large athlete population among our students.The facilities are wonderful here, and there are a lot of research capabilities and data collection at Sunderland that we could develop in the future and collaborate on.”
Keen to highlight the importance of the exchange of different ideas and perspectives, Dr Elmer wants to promote a more global understanding of what sport and exercise means in different areas of the world which is why Berry College are keen to develop relationships with institutions like Sunderland.
One of the first beneficiaries of this new partnership is Dale Stones, a sports science undergraduate at the University of Sunderland who elected to spend the second year of his degree at Berry College. Dale says he feels privileged to be given this opportunity to study abroad and is eager to plunge himself into American culture. He said: “I expect to learn more about myself as a person and develop as a Student and Sports Scientist, with the exciting prospect of playing soccer for Berry too.” Dale is hoping to make enough connections during his time at Berry to make America his permanent home after graduation where he would like to coach soccer.
Berry College is a private, liberal arts college with a Christian emphasis located in Mount Berry, Floyd County, Georgia, just north of Rome. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).