Not just fun and games in the world of community engaged research

Dr. Julie Booke, PhD, researching bully prevention and respect in sports




Julie Booke’s journey into community-engaged research began one day while simply driving to work. “On the radio, Hockey Calgary was talking about how they were going to require one parent or guardian to complete a program on respect if they wanted their children to play hockey. I thought that was super interesting,” Booke says. Having already researched the impact education programs have on behavior, Booke thought this would be a perfect opportunity to continue research in that area, and she reached out to Hockey Calgary. “That was my first step into the community in this area of research.”

Booke is an associate professor at Mount Royal in the Department of Health and Physical Education. She primarily researches the culture of respect in sports and bully prevention programs. Sport is something that most people come into contact with at some point. Whether they are an athlete, their child plays sports, or they are a sports fan, it can be an important aspect of their daily lives.

The partnership with Hockey Calgary proved to be invaluable for both parties; one outcome was Hockey Calgary collaborated with Booke on a textbook chapter on discussions surrounding the implementation of the respect in sport program, which is now taught in her department

“Research in the area of safe sport and leadership lends itself to the classroom. We’re bringing in real-life examples of what is happening right now, bringing in information from research and information from those community partners,” Booke says.

Booke’s work with Hockey Calgary also caught the attention of a Calgary swim club that was examining its bully prevention measures. The swim club had joined up with the bully prevention organization Dare to Care, which was especially fitting as Dare to Care was founded in 1999 by Canadian National Swim Team athlete Lisa Dixon-Wells.

Working with the swim club and Dare to Care resulted in program implementations for the swim club and Booke guesting on a Dare to Care podcast. Additionally, the organization gave presentations to Booke’s capstone course, teaching students about leadership and respect issues as they enter their careers.

While beneficial for her students, Booke says that at the end of the day, community-engaged research is tailored for the community itself. “It’s super fun to be engaged with the community. When looking at sport and recreation and all the individuals involved with it: athletes, parents, coaches, it is very important to hear their voice.” Booke continues, “If I am going to conduct research on these programs and ask people to participate as research subjects, I really want to make sure what I am studying and what I am doing is useful for them as well.”