A tale of two cities – academic exchange across the Atlantic

Dr Todd Harrison, Department Chair in Sports Management at St John Fisher College, Rochester, New York

Dr Todd Harrison, Department Chair in Sports Management at St John Fisher College, Rochester, New York

An exchange of a different kind came to an end in December at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).

An exchange of a different kind came to an end in December at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT). Rather than our students heading off to one of the Institute’s many partner universities around the world, this time our staff swapped places, bringing fresh ideas to either side of the Atlantic while they were at it.

Dr Todd Harrison from St John Fisher College in America came to work in the Department of Health, Sport & Exercise Science at the Institute for Semester 1 of the academic year and taught four courses, including Recreation and Technology, Introduction to Sport and Leisure, Sociology of Sport and Leisure, and Sociology of Sport. Dr Harrison participated widely in college life while he was here and one highlight for students and the graduate business communities in WIT was his lecture “Scores or Scholarships:  Athletics Evolving Role in American Universities”.

Speaking about his time at WIT, Dr Harrison remarked, “Working in an environment foreign to you forces attention to the details that sometimes get overlooked and I will take home a renewed sense of energy towards teaching and engaging each student in the best way possible.”

“This exchange has been invaluable to me professionally and personally. The students and staff at WIT are top notch and I forward to working with Jean, Michael and others on campus, to further the relationship between our institutions.”

The students Dr Harrison taught also gained much from the experience. In addition to teaching students in the department of Health, Sport & Exercise Science, Dr Harrison also taught modules in other areas, teaching those who don’t necessarily share his passion for sport. As Pat Coghlan, a student on the BA (Hons) in Arts explained, “Dr Harrison’s lectures were always relevant and engaging, and not just for those of us who are interested in sport. In fact, I believe he may have converted a few to becoming fans of sport!”

Dr Jean McArdle from the Department of Health, Sport & Exercise Science in WIT exchanged her faculty role with Dr Harrison and spent the first semester teaching and living in New York state.

“One of the most enjoyable parts of this exchange was the opportunity to focus solely on teaching and being in the classroom” said Dr McArdle. “At the start, the students didn’t fully grasp my ‘irishisms’. However, we managed to navigate these communication barriers and judging from the student feedback, they really enjoyed the experience. They reported that they expanded their horizons in a sporting, cultural and educational way. Plus, they thought I was great craic!”

According to Dr Michael Harrison, Head of the Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Science, Todd adapted really well to academic life in WIT and the Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Science in particular. He made a really strong impact on the students in our department and those from other disciplines. “Todd’s semester here and Jean’s in America have both been a great success and will facilitate further engagement between staff in the sports sociology and sports management fields.”

St John Fisher College and WIT have a long standing relationship and the first links were made between the Department of Nursing at WIT and the Wegman’s School of Nursing at St John Fisher College (SJF) in Rochester, New York in 2008. Since then, the Department and Wegman’s School have been close collaborators in the development of international programmes in nursing and through the UDINE C pan-European group for Nurse Educators. WIT and SJF formalised the relationship in 2010, signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop further links, exchanges and collaborations. SJF were very interested in exploring further links with the Institute and have developed strong collaborations with the School of Humanities. SJF have participated in the Institute’s Irish Studies Programme and in 2013 both Institutes ran a joint Conference in Waterford which was the academic underpinning of the 30th anniversary of the Sister Cities initiative.  

Related Courses

Bachelor of Science (Honours) in  Sport & Exercise Science
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in  Sports Coaching & Performance
Bachelor of Business in  Recreation & Sport Management
Bachelor of Business (Honours) in  Recreation & Sport Management
Bachelor of Business (Honours) in  Recreation and Sport Management
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in  Exercise Sciences (Common Entry)
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in  Nutrition & Exercise Science
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in  Health & Exercise Science

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