Dawn Trussell’s research is about making sports a level playing field.
The Associate Professor of Sport Management studies sport and leisure culture in the lives of individuals, families and communities through a social justice lens.
Trussell has been awarded Brock University’s 2021 Chancellor’s Chair for Research Excellence, an opportunity she says will advance her decade-long work.
Trussell is now focusing on allyship, a practice where those in positions of privilege and power work in solidarity with marginalized groups to “dismantle systems of oppression” that often exclude participants based on race, gender, sexual orientation and other social identities.
She says inequalities heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the rise of social movements such as Black Lives Matter, have inspired her to study how allyship and activism can be applied in local community youth sport.
“With power and privilege comes access — to knowledge, resources, skills and abilities, making allies a valuable asset across social justice movements,” says Trussell.
“As members of the privileged group, allies can be highly effective catalysts for creating the positive change that must happen to show solidarity with and support for those most impacted by social injustice.”
With her 2021 Chancellor’s Chair for Research Excellence, Trussell will be investigating how volunteers and paid staff in community youth sport organizations define, and learn about, allyship and activism.
She will examine how volunteers and paid staff view and interact with current socio-political movements, their involvement with different forms of allyship, and how their allyship and activism shape relationships with their family members.
“The phenomenal colleagues and students I have the opportunity to work and learn with provide the foundation for the proposed program of research, which will be one of the first to examine the concept of allyship within the local community sport sector,” says Trussell.
Brock Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon says Trussell’s groundbreaking work is a powerful example of research making a difference.
“Sport activities provide opportunities for children and youth to learn important life lessons, such as how to interact with others, what it means to be a team player and the need for persistence, among many other values,” he says.
“Staff and volunteers in community youth sport organizations who practise allyship and activism are modelling for youth the value of inclusiveness and how to create safe, welcoming environments for all,” he says.
Trussell’s expertise continues to be widely recognized. Last year, she and Associate Professor of Sport Management Shannon Kerwin were appointed research co-leads for the scientific committee of the National Gender+ Equity in Sport Research Hub, funded by Sport Canada.
Scholars from across Canada work towards advancing gender and equity in the country by using evidence-based solutions to close the gender gap in sport.
Trussell is President of the Canadian Association for Leisure Studies. She is also a Member of the North American Society for Sport Management, Program Committee Member of Brock’s Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies, and Steering Committee Member of Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute.
The Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada and Sport Canada has awarded Trussell several grants to fund her research.