Three University of La Verne professors have received international recognition for their research on the impacts of sports mega-event construction on local populations.
Dr. Paul Alvarez, Professor of Kinesiology, has been an Assistant Athletics Trainer at the last three World University Games (Universiades) in Belgrade, Serbia (2009), Shenzhen, China (2011) and in Kazan, Russia (2013). Dr. Alvarez then joined with Marcia Godwin, Associate Professor of Public Administration and Matthew Witt, Professor of Public Administration to examine how controversies parallel similar concerns raised by the Olympic Games.
Drs. Godwin and Witt presented their research findings at the Olympic Legacies International Conference at the University of East London September 4-6, joining scholars from the United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, and other countries who are studying similar issues.
According to Godwin, Alvarez, and Witt’s research, the World University Games (Universiade) tend to be hosted by emerging or rebuilding world cities undergoing rapid development and transformation. As a result of these events being second only to the Olympics in participation, the Games require large-scale housing projects for athletes and support staff. The Belgade games included relocation of Roma settlements in favor of new apartments and a shopping center while the Shenzhen games included construction of a new university that displaced a local village. A sports university was relocated for the Kazan games, with controversies over the cost for its construction and the development of public transportation.
Dr. Godwin said that participation in the Olympic Legacies International Conference provided her and Dr. Witt with a unique opportunity to tour housing projects in the Olympic Park in London’s East End and hear from local scholars about their concerns about development projects and post-Olympic uses.
A highlight of the conference was being able to meet with student ambassadors at the University of East London (UEL), located near the Docklands area of London.
“UEL is a lot like the University of La Verne, with its diverse student body – many the first in their family to go to college,” Godwin said. She especially enjoyed talking with Student Ambassador Monica Barwuah-manu, a recent graduate who had been a volunteer at the 2012 London Olympics.
“For me, some of the most interesting and memorable highlights from the London Olympics will be the sense of unity not only over the city of London but over the Nation,” Barwuah-manu said. “I felt there was a sense of purpose and focus amongst everyone involved especially the volunteers who had travelled across the nations and even international just to be part of this the event. I saw the power of human ingenuity.”
Monica commented about how much she appreciated UEL’s mentoring programs and international student body, with many students from Africa and Asia.
In addition to the presentation in London, the professors are also planning to present their findings during a faculty research talk in January, 2014.