On 27 June 2016, fifteen PhD students and two Master’s students from nine nations across the globe congregated to begin the 2016 Summer School in Sport Sciences. The summer school was hosted by Universite Paris-Est and was organised and coordinated by Pierre-Olaf Schut, an Associate Professor in History and Sociology of Sport at the University. In addition to Professor Schut, ten other professors from four different nations and a wide variety of research fields were involved in the five-day-long summer school. Each of the professors who attended the summer school presented a piece of research to allow students to gain an insight into current discourses of physical activity and sport. These research fields included the history of sport, sociology of sport, sports management, sport psychology as well as qualitative and quantitative research methods within sports science and psychology of sport. Additionally, the students benefited from more practical presentations on funding opportunities for research in Europe and publishing advice, including choosing the reliable publisher and scientific conferences and adapting the text to the editorial rules. Further, each student had to option to attend two fifteen-minute individual supervisory sessions with the professor of choice to discuss their PhD or Master’s project in more detail.
In addition to each of the professors presenting to the group, each of the students attending the summer school was asked to present a fifteen-minute overview of their PhD or Master’s research to fellow students and professors. Each of the presentations included a rationale, methodologies and theoretical framework of the respective research, and any challenges faced in conducting the research. This was an invaluable opportunity for the students to not only practice presenting their research in a clear and concise manner but to also receive feedback from both students and professors on the progress and methods of their research. Many of the students were non-native English speakers, so this also provided a challenging but rewarding opportunity for them to present in English both in written and verbal forms.
The summer school ran alongside the 17th Congress of the International Society for the History of Physical Education and Sport, at which two of the summer school attendees took advantage of a further opportunity to present their research, and the remaining attendees had the opportunity to spend one afternoon attending the congress. For some of the summer school students, this was their first time attending an international congress, and especially a history of sport congress, which was a valuable insight into this field.
As well as the summer school providing many academic opportunities for the students, there was also a social programme that the students enjoyed which allowed them to start to connect and develop networks amongst other researchers. Among aspects of the social programme included a welcome dinner and the opportunity to play sports such as badminton and ultimate frisbee in the evenings, which unsurprisingly resulted in some competitive exchanges. The social highlight for the majority of the students, particularly those who had never previously been to Paris, was a visit to central Paris on one afternoon of the summer school. This trip was included in the price of the summer school, and consisted of catching the train into central Paris, enjoying a boat ride along the River Seine, a guided tour around the Jewish quarter of Paris by Cécile Collinet and PearlAnn Reichwein and finishing with a drink at a stylish bar, leaving the evening free for the students to continue exploring the city at their leisure. The social programme of the summer school ended with a final dinner and dance alongside delegates attending the ISHPES Congress. This was a fantastic evening of food, dancing and laughter, and was an opportunity for the students to learn their final lessons from the professors; how to rock the dance floor!
Overall, the 2016 Summer School was an excellent opportunity for students to gain valuable insights from Academics about emerging trends in sport studies, and also the opportunity to grow networks and meet other young researchers from across the globe. The hosting of the Summer School during the same week as the ISHPES Congress allowed the students to further widen their networks, gave some students their first experience of a sports history Congress, and provided the opportunity for some of the students to present their work to a wider academic audience. The most memorable element of the summer school for the students remains the friendships that they have made across the world and within different sporting disciplines, and the opportunities that this has created for the students to continue to develop these relationships both academically and socially. There are few other opportunities to get to spend an intense period of time with such a diverse group of people who are all working towards a common goal.
Lucy Piggott (University of Chichester), Micheal Warren (Victoria University of Wellington), Sascha Leisterer (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and Nela Klimas (University School of Physical Education in Poznań)