Dr. Robert Schinke is a renewed SSHRC Canada Research Chair Tier II in Multicultural Sport and Physical Activity and a Full Professor at Laurentian University. He has been funded numerous times by SSHRC and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. His initial SSHRC projects focused on community research on reserve with Canadian Aboriginal elite athletes and youth sport participants, as well as the acculturation of Indigenous athletes, post-relocation off reserve. This work resulted in Schinke receiving the Canadian Sport Science Research Award for Community Research in 2010. More recent SSHRC funding since 2012 has been focused on newcomer athlete acculturation and sport participants’ identities. He is presently a co-editor with the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, an associate editor with Case Studies in Sport and Exercise Psychology, and an editorial broad member with Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise, and Health, and the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology. He is also a former associate editor with Psychology of Sport and Exercise. Robert is also a Past President of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology and a Managing Council member for the International Society of Sport Psychology, presently running for the position of president in Spain. Should he achieve this status in Spain, he will be the first Canadian to do so, and also the first sport psychologist to reach president in both worldwide societies in the history of his field.
- What is the function of a Research Chair, and how does the renewal of that role affect your research? A Canada research chair, tier two is the level of being able to make a mark on an international level. Cultural sports psychology is my area of expertise. I work with international level athletes and coaches, based on their cultural heritage and background. I am very honored for this renewal; it means that I’ve done a reasonable job in the first five years, warranting further investment by Laurentian University and the federal government. I am honored specifically to be doing my CRC here at Laurentian, where we really engage in cultural inclusiveness on a daily basis as faculty from two languages and three heritages (at very least) work together, often blending languages and ancestries around every table of discussion. This renewal will greatly effect my progress as a scholar, though also hopefully the field more broadly. I first named cultural sport psychology 10 years ago. Since then, the area has expanded worldwide, with special issues in many of the field’s leading peer reviewed journals. The renewal permits me to continue leading this rapidly growing area through 2020!
- How do Canada Research Chairs support the research mandate at Laurentian University? One of the key foci presently at Laurentian University is mentoring of faculty and staff. When I was first hired at this university, graduate programs were only beginning to emerge, and much of the organizational culture was on high quality under-graduate education. More recently, there has been an organizational shift toward graduate education and faculty capacity building in terms of research funding. I have utilized my Canada Research Chair appointment to work with a growing number of faculty members on Tri-Council funded projects. These faculty members are working as co-applicants and gaining further experience, which will augment their capacity to develop external funding applications to higher profile granting agencies. One such person on a current application is one of our former PhD students, who was also just named the International Society of Sport Psychology’s Developing Scholar for 2017-2012. Concurrently, I have attracted increased numbers of international doctoral level students and also visiting professors from outside of Canada to Laurentian University. These ambitions have matched well with the current strategic plan where considerable emphasis has been placed on cultural inclusiveness, internationalization, and capacity building in the area of funded research.
- What are your areas of expertise and what research have you done thus far? I work in the area of cultural sport psychology, or CSP. This area is a rapidly growing line of inquiry, now worldwide. Much of my earliest focus was placed onto understanding issues surrounding race, in relation to Indigenous elite and community level sport participants. More recently, I have opened up a much broader line of research that integrates various aspects of sport participant identity. The reality is that each of us is far more than our nationality, or race, or ethnicity. We are each unique based upon a blending of various parts of our social identity, with these aspects used as skills to navigate through various social contexts in and around our lives, including our sport lives. My Tri-Council funding has permitted me and my colleagues to explore indigenous sport participant acculturation when these athletes relocate to pursue sport excellence. We have (and continue to) also work with a Canadian Olympic team, where we are designing interventions based upon a SSRC funded project, that will enhance cultural education for executive administration, sport staff, and athletes. Finally, we have also examined athlete and coach acculturation, contributing to knowledge in that area within the Canadian sport system. Our contribution in relation to athlete acculturation is well regarded and published worldwide in several of the most well regarded journals in sport psychology and sport science.
- What interests you most about the culturally-relevant sport psychology practices in Canada? The clients are all so culturally diverse. Diversity spans participants from various nationalities, ethnicities, races, languages, genders, sexual orientations, educations, and SE status. We need to be inclusive of our participants for who they are as opposed to exclusive and so, excluding and marginalizing of people wishing to enter into sport and physical activity. We should not intentionally or unintentionally silence people in the local to federal sport systems where they engage in physical activity, seeking to forge social connections. Participants need to feel empowered and accepted – sport is a social activity that can serve as a platform to enable healthy social integration. Laurentian is a tri-cultural institution where our varsity teams are inclusive of diversity. On a personal level, I embarked on my topic area of cultural sport psychology, where I have been able to support inclusiveness from community through Olympic level sport contexts as a result of what I learned while at Laurentian University, sometimes with some forthright guidance from the indigenous community and our own indigenous scholars. These experiences have shaped my thinking, the pedigree of graduate students I work with, and also the sport programs where I have allocated time over the years.
- To that point, what is it like to travel the world and experience your research firsthand? I look to engage sport participants so that they can embrace their backgrounds, integrate and excel in whatever level of sport and physical activity they choose to engage with. When everyone is accepted within (and through) sport, excellence in performance and humanity can be fostered whilst concurrently contributing to cultural inclusiveness. My primary goal with my colleagues and students is on easing adjustment and acclimation of athletes into their teams, though also facilitating the cultural readiness of sport organizations and community programmers as they receive newcomers into their sport and physical activity offerings. Focusing on elite sport alone, nearly one in four Olympic athletes is a New Canadian on the Olympic team. Laurentian has given me the opportunity to support these cultural minority sport participants and foster these relationships and work with such agencies as the Canadian Olympic Committee and Own The Podium via my funded projects. I take a holistic approach to my research - it has to be shared with everyone involved, from athletes to community stakeholders, to federal agencies and policy makers. For better social integration to happen, inclusiveness must permeate all levels of sport programming. This past year, I was on staff at the 2016 Rio Olympics helping to support our athletes and coaches, and it was wonderful seeing some of our athletes centralizing their cultural practices, even as part of their warm-ups before Olympic performance!
- What can you tell us about your plans for your second 5-year appointment as Canada Research Chair? I have just submitted a new five-year SSHRC Insight grant where I will be extending the acculturation research and also my interest in community based methodologies with marginalized participants. The particular focus will be placed on refugee youth acculturation through community sport programs. Shortly, I will also be developing a second SSHRC, this one an Insight Development project, focused on sport terrorism within major games contexts. Concurrently, I am also presently preparing a research project with one of my doctoral students, to be submitted to the Coaches Association of Canada, with a particular focus on organizational culture within successful Canadian Olympic training environments. Within the longer-term plans of this term, I will also be collaborating with a former doctoral student on an Indigenous project, in collaboration with an undisclosed reserve. I also intend to extend my research on national team athlete identity from a previous SSHRC Insight Development project into a multisport grant submission.