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Madeleine Orr

Pioneering Brighton Management alumna returns to Brighton

Dr Madeleine Orr, a Canadian graduate, recently returned to the University of Brighton to host a research seminar on her work in Sport Ecology, which has seen Forbes list her among the leading young people in sport for 2021.

After graduating in 2015 with a Masters in Event Management from Brighton, Dr Orr completed her PhD at the University of Minnesota. She then founded the Sport Ecology Group to lead study into tackling climate change through sport. Its ethos is summed up with a simple message – “Imagine if all people understood and supported the environment with the same interest and passion they showed their favourite sports teams.”.

Dr Orr’s seminar on 19 January – Sport Ecology: At the intersection of natural resource science, environmental health, consumer behaviour – encompassed her start in Sport Ecology, what theories and traditions she draws on in her work, and how she brings these perspectives together. She also discussed the value of interdisciplinary teams and projects, and the latest findings and future directions for Sport Ecology.

Speaking of the influence her postgraduate study at Brighton played, Dr Orr said: “I credit Dr. Nigel Jarvis for getting me excited about research initially. He was my dissertation advisor and a brilliant support in developing my research interests early on. And Dr. Tom Carter’s module on contemporary issues in sport – plus the module on risk and crisis management in sport – were instrumental in laying the foundations for what would become my area of expertise. I still use examples borrowed from those classes in my teaching.”

With regard to her work in developing ideas around Sport Ecology, she said: “I think people understand that sport relies on the natural environment, but don’t often consider the implications of that dependency. For example, skiing is only possible if there’s snow; field sports need a turf and temperatures above zero. When conditions are compromised or altered, say, by an extreme heat wave, or an unusually warm winter, the whole landscape of sport is liable to change.’

‘I think people assume that the money in the sport sector or its size will protect it from experiencing environmental changes or shocks, when that’s just not the case. As for the moral and ethical responsibility of sports organizations to be good stewards of their environment, that is largely overlooked – aside from occasional small initiatives that are mostly PR efforts! But there’s some promising evidence that the tide is changing…”

International Event Management

Olivia Weatherill • January 22, 2021


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