Alumni, Research

Alumna wins prominent international fellowship

April 25, 2022

Jenna Lorusso

Alumna and Adjunct Research Professor at the Faculty of Education, Jenna Lorusso, has won the prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship from the European Commission.

The fellowship supports researchers’ careers and fosters research excellence. It also helps them gain experience and acquire new skills in other countries, disciplines and with non-academic sectors.

“I’m grateful that this fellowship – in which I’ll focus on quality physical education policy – will allow me to continue my commitment to advancing the development of healthy, active, and engaged citizens while also enhancing my research skills and career,” Lorusso said.

As part of her fellowship, Lorusso will work alongside international stakeholders to develop a preparatory policy engagement program to help professionals develop and enact quality physical education policy. Together, they will identify key facilitators, barriers, and content in the development of policy capacity as well as translate policy processes into practical policy lessons. The resulting program will be evidence-based, internationally applicable and available as an open educational resource.

This research is important because international organizations like UNESCO have noted the quality of physical education has been declining globally.

“Poor policies and policy implementation are key factors in that decline due, in part, to physical educators’ lack of preparation for policy engagement,” Lorusso said.

She added the policy program will build physical educators’ capacity to engage in policy efforts, which may improve physical education for students and develop healthy, active, and engaged citizens.

What’s more, as an open educational resource, the program can be implemented in teacher education, continuing professional development, and graduate education worldwide, Lorusso said.

“The potential scientific, economic, and societal impacts of the fellowship project are aligned with contemporary European and global development agendas,” she said.

The fellowship program appeals to Lorusso because of its focus on impactful research that has substantive international, interdisciplinary, and intersectoral components that meet gender equality, open access, citizen engagement, and ethics criteria.

“This approach ensures my research adequately considers the complexities of the real world as it addresses societal challenges and is aligned with the values, needs and expectations of the public, particularly as it relates to inclusivity and sustainability,” she said.

Currently, Lorusso is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada-funded Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at the University of Limerick and the Department of Educational Policy and Leadership at the University at Albany, SUNY as well as an Adjunct Research Professor at Western University’s Faculty of Education.

She investigates policy, equity, and leadership in school- and university-based physical education. Her research aims to address suboptimal policy and policy configurations, inequitable structures and systems, and inadequate leadership or leadership preparation that undermine physical education teaching and learning.