Understanding impact: Applications invited for funded PhD studentship

There is a greater need to understand what drives the impact behind successful sport for development interventions in the lives of girls and young women, according to the co-ordinators of a new PhD studentship.

Durham University and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation have partnered to initiate a new fully-funded, three-year PhD entitled ‘Socio-anthropological study of the impact of Sport for Development interventions in the lives of girls and young women’.

High-calibre applicants are now being sought, including those who may bring academic and/or practical experience in different areas including, but not limited to, sport for development, international development, anthropology, social scientific study of sport, gender studies.


Dr Morten Schmidt, Director of Programmes and Grants at Laureus Sport for Good, told ConnectSport: “Over the past few years, we have published ground-breaking research on why so many girls drop out of sport and sport for development programmes when they hit adolescence and early teens, and what we can do to change the trend.

“We now know the importance of having female role models, coaches and leaders; we know better sport-based programmes need to be adapted to become more inclusive and relevant for girls and women; and we know that communities must be engaged to change perceptions about what girls and women can and should do.

“Where we still struggle a bit as a sector is to explain what it is that drives the impact in the lives of girls and women in our programmes? We are still basing much of our programming on assumptions about effects, without having the deeper understanding.”

Morten explained: “With this partnership with Durham University we wish to launch a longer-term piece of research into what it is that causes the changes in the lives of girls and young women when they take part in sport for development programmes.

“We will support the researcher to dig below the surface; to construct an understanding of how programmes generate their effects in the lives of girls and young women. It is this kind of understanding that we hope will help nurture the dialogue with wider social and international development.”

Research is expected to be undertaken with organisations and projects across the globe which receive funding from Laureus. It is intended to inform the future design and implementation of programmes for girls and young women that are supported by Laureus and by other organisations across the world.


The research will involve in-depth engagement with sport for development participants and practitioners in different contexts, and co-ordinators see experience of working in sport for development as beneficial for any potential applicant for the studentship.

Dr Iain Lindsey, Associate Professor in Sport Policy and Development at Durham University, said: “It is really important that this research brings benefits to the sport for development sector, and so we would welcome potential applicants for the PhD studentship who would bring a relevant background in working in sport for development to the role.”

To find out more and apply, click here. The closing date is August 26th.