Elon partnership with England’s Bournemouth University opens new doors for research

Elon University and Bournemouth University in England have partnered on a summer exchange program to create new opportunities for undergraduate research in exercise science and sport therapy.

Elon and Bournemouth University, in Dorset, England, have solidified a partnership to provide new opportunities in undergraduate research through a summer exchange program.

The universities have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, establishing the exchange program that will begin in summer 2020. Each summer, students from Elon and Bournemouth will spend six to eight weeks researching a chosen topic at one of the partnering universities.

“It’s a really unique model where there’s a lot of co-mentorship going on on both campuses,” said Eric Hall, professor of exercise science and faculty athletics representative at Elon.

The program is a result of collaborations between Hall, Professor of Exercise Science and Chair of the Department of Exercise Science Caroline Ketcham, and Bournemouth’s Senior Lecturer in Sports Therapy Dr. Osman Ahmed. The group has spent years researching concussions and related topics and is currently co-authoring an academic chapter on concussions.

Hall and Ketcham co-direct the Elon BrainCARE Research Institute, the interdisciplinary research institute that aims to be a leader and partner in the facilitation of supportive environments and programs that foster, promote and nurture a positive mental health climate. Their past work with Ahmed, and the focus of both universities on global education experiences, made Elon and Bournemouth the perfect match. The summer exchange program will allow students to benefit from that match as they study exercise science and sport therapy in a new place while broadening the scope of the research that could one day shape their careers.

In summer 2019, Elon student Emily Klevan ’20 became the first student at either university to participate in a pilot version of the program. Klevan researched concussion legislation in the United Kingdom with the help of mentors from Elon and Bournemouth.

“I think the unique part of this partnership is that we really work on the projects throughout the year, so there’s ongoing, sustained mentoring on both sides of the pond,” Ketcham said.

This summer, the program will expand as Bournemouth will send two students to conduct research at Elon, and Elon will send one student to Bournemouth.

“It has been really exciting to grow our partnership with another university thousands of miles away, and hopefully it is the start of a long relationship,” Ahmed told the Society of Sports Therapists. “We are very pleased to be able to share these opportunities with our students and hope that they get lots of valuable life experiences from this, as well as the educational and research benefits that these activities will bring.”

At Elon, the summer exchange program will operate as a part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) in which students work closely with a faculty mentor for two months on a chosen research topic. During the exchange program, Elon students will conduct research for six to eight weeks at Bournemouth before returning to campus to present their work.

The partnership will also help accomplish the mission of the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center. The GEC is a hub for global activity at Elon, which provides services for international students and scholars and for all students interested in Elon’s many Global Engagement programs, both abroad and within the United States.

“The Global Education Center is excited to have a new global exchange partnership with Bournemouth University designed specifically for undergraduate research,” said Dean of Global Education Woody Pelton. “We were happy to collaborate with our Department of Exercise Science to create these research opportunities abroad and are especially pleased to see the exchange working in both directions.”

Hall and Ketcham hope this partnership will continue to grow and encourage similar collaborations across campus in the future.

“We talk about these high-impact practices – undergraduate research, global education, diversity – so I think to be able to layer these on top of each other just gives students an added benefit from learning outcomes,” Hall said. “And I think it’s just an additional bonus that they will have multiple sets of mentors they can fall back on to be able to help out with those projects.”

For more information about the Elon-Bournemouth summer exchange program, email Eric Hall at ehall@elon.edu or Caroline Ketcham at cketcham@elon.edu.