Fulbright award; Waikato academic now sporting ambassador

Press Release – Waikato University

American students are set to get a glimpse into the Kiwi passion for sport and how it’s made us who we are today, thanks to a prestigious Fulbright Visiting Scholar Award made to a University of Waikato academic.October 26, 2011

Fulbright award turns Waikato academic into sporting ambassador

American students are set to get a glimpse into the Kiwi passion for sport and how it’s made us who we are today, thanks to a prestigious Fulbright Visiting Scholar Award made to a University of Waikato academic.

Researcher and former competition snowboarder Dr Holly Thorpe has been awarded the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Award in New Zealand Studies at Georgetown University in Washington DC for 2012.

The Fulbright Visiting Scholar Award is for New Zealand academics to undertake research and teach a course at the Centre of Australian and New Zealand Studies (CANZ) for one or two semesters. Past recipients of the award have included such notable New Zealand scholars and artists as historians Michael King and James Belich, poet Bill Manhire and playwright Roger Hall.

Dr Thorpe will spend six months from August next year at Georgetown teaching a course on sport in New Zealand society, and collecting data for a research project on the experiences of youth and children in extreme sports in both New Zealand and the US.

Dr Thorpe is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education’s Sport and Leisure Department, and has published widely on aspects of sport and youth culture. As a snowboarder herself, she has a special interest in extreme sports, and has published multiple books and articles on the subject.

“It’s very exciting,” says Dr Thorpe. “Georgetown is a prestigious university with the only programme in Australian and New Zealand Studies in the country. My course will provide students with an insight into New Zealand society through my particular field of expertise, that is, the sociology and history of sport.”

The US students will be introduced to iconic figures such as Sir Edmund Hillary and A.J. Hackett, and learn about the impact on New Zealand society of sporting controversies ranging from the 1981 Springbok Tour to the Adidas All Blacks haka advertisement.

“I’ll also introduce the students to netball and the Rugby World Cup – sports and events a lot of Americans have no idea about,” says Dr Thorpe. “The Fulbright scholarships are all about building connections between countries, so the students will learn about New Zealand society through the vehicle of sport, and for me it will be interesting to see how they do things differently both at a US university, and also in terms of extreme sport participation.”

In 2009, Dr Thorpe was the recipient of a Leverhulme Visiting Scholar Fellowship, and spent nine months at the University of Brighton in the UK where she completed a book on snowboarding, focusing on social theory, physical youth culture, gender and the body and embodiment.

ENDS

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