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How Community Sport Programs are Decreasing Identity Cleavages in Northern Ireland

Emily Schimelpfenig

Emily Schimelpfenig, University of Wyoming

Publication Date: 2018
Location: Northern Ireland
Who: Community Organizers in Northern Ireland/University of Wyoming Faculty Led Study Abroad at Queen’s University Belfast

Research Question
How are community sport programs successfully decreasing identity cleavages in Northern Ireland?

Significance
In Northern Ireland, sport has become a part of the two divided identities present in the country. After the Troubles, a piecemeal approach was used to address past conflicts, and one piece of these was using community sport programs to help decrease tensions and the perceived stark identity cleavages between groups.

Methods Used
During the time spent in Northern Ireland, to use the method of direct participation in the Summer School on Conflict Transformation and Social Justice at Queen’s University Belfast. This program provides students with a broad overview of conflict resolution history, politics, and critical awareness. Alongside participation, interviewing community organizers to determine how they built these programs around the idea of breaking down identity barriers.

Conclusions/Outcomes
Creating a framework for successful sport programs that will help address identity cleavages between groups. This model could potentially be transferred into other post-conflict situations, or into other communities in order to build community relations between groups of people.

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