Georgia on Sunderland’s mind

Dr David Elmer and Morc Coulson

Published on 10 April 2017

Sunderland has forged a ‘special relationship’ with America’s largest College to further global research and exchange opportunities in sport and exercise science.

For more than 20 years Sunderland has developed a strong track record in the field of sports science for its teaching excellence, research and partnerships with regional and national sporting organisations from Sunderland Football Club to Durham County Cricket Club.

As a result of that reputation, Sunderland was selected last year as part of a fact-finding visit to universities across the UK by a team of academics from Berry College in Georgia, who have been cultivating their own sports science department over the past eight years.

So impressed were the team at Berry by Sunderland’s research, teaching and facilities that they have forged an agreement between the two institutions, developing links and research opportunities, as well offering an exchange partnerships for staff, and students.

"Broadening the academic experience through knowledge and student exchanges with other universities not only raises our own department’ profile, but benefits the reputation of the wider university, its staff and students"

Dr David Elmer, Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at Berry College, arrived on campus this month, exploring our research, facilities and teaching methods at Sunderland’s Sciences Complex, as well as continuing to develop the links between the two universities. Last year, Morc Coulson, a Sports and Exercise lecturer, was invited to promote relations at Berry College, delivering lectures to students on their campus and mapping Sunderland’s courses with the 5,300-acre College’s own subjects.

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. We very much welcome Dr Elmer to our campus, offering our student’s the opportunity to engage with a practitioner in Kinesiology.”

He added: “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.

“Broadening the academic experience through knowledge and student exchanges with other universities not only raises our own department’ profile, but benefits the reputation of the wider university, its staff and students. It’s an opportunity we hope will really enhance our work.”

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.

“Morc gave us some perspective on how education works at Sunderland and his own areas of expertise; we also spent a lot of time mapping out the similarities between our programmes so that we could provide opportunities to send students back and forth.

“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.”

He added: “Different ideas and different perspectives, and a more global understanding of what sport and exercise means in different areas of the world is really important to us, which is why it’s important to develop relationships with institutions like Sunderland.”

 One of the first students to sign up to the student exchange opportunity was 19-year-old Dale Stones, who has been spending the second year of his degree course at Berry.

He said: “I feel privileged to get this opportunity and I’m eager to plunge myself into American culture and their infectious patriotism.

“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.

“I feel I have made a good start to my degree and I feel the Study Abroad Programme can only enhance my degree. My first year at Sunderland was very hands-on which I really enjoyed. I hope to make connections whilst I study at Berry so that when I graduate from Sunderland I can make a permanent move to the States to coach soccer.”

About Berry College

Berry College is a private, four-year liberal arts college (link is external)(link is external) 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). Berry was founded in 1902 by Martha Berry. With 27,000 acres (110 km2), Berry College boasts the largest contiguous campus in the world. College leaders from across the country chose Berry College as the nation's number one 'Up-And-Coming' liberal arts college, according to the 2014 U.S. News Best Colleges rankings released September 10, 2013.

Berry has approximately 2,100 students and offers undergraduate degree programs in sciences, humanities, arts and social sciences, as well as undergraduate and master’s level opportunities in business and teacher education.

Students are encouraged to enrich their academic studies through participation in one of the nation’s premier on-campus work experience program, and more than 90 percent take advantage of this unique opportunity to gain valuable real-world experience prior to graduation.