CSC-UVA Athletics' Partnership Promotes Flourishing for Student Athletes On and Off the Field
During the 2020 spring semester, CSC and UVA Athletics joined forces to launch a new annual leadership program for student-athletes called the Citizen Leaders and Sports Ethics Community Impact Fellowship.
This new program offers UVA student-athletes an opportunity to develop the kind of personal and professional skills they’ll need to flourish in their lives after UVA. At the same time it empowers them to address the unique issues facing fellow student-athletes, particularly the strain of balancing competitive sports pressures with academic responsibilities and social and emotional well-being.
Selected fellows identify a specific, pressing challenge to the well-being or flourishing of their teammates or the larger community of student-athletes at UVA and spend their fellowship year designing and implementing programs to overcome those challenges with evidence-based tools such as mindfulness meditation and other contemplative practices. They assess the impact of their projects using effective research measures, such as surveys, interviews, or focus groups.
Leslie Hubbard, CSC’s Program Director for Student Engagement and Contemplative Instruction, says this new 12-month fellowship provides an opportunity for participating student-athletes to become community leaders. "It allows them the chance to develop the knowledge and long-term skills to pursue more engaged, healthy, values-driven, and successful personal, professional, and civic lives at UVA and beyond."
Providing student-athletes with exceptional learning experiences that will help them reach their fullest potential on and off the playing field is part of UVA Athletics’ Master Plan and its goal for the new Center for Citizen Leaders and Sports Ethics. It’s also why UVA Athletics has partnered with CSC not only on this fellowship, but in encouraging student-athletes to take CSC’s academic course called “The Art and Science of Human Flourishing (ASHF).”
The course explores different dimensions of human flourishing from the perspectives of neuroscience, psychology, and the humanities. The goal is to encourage students to develop and maintain cognitive and emotional well-being, manage stress, build strong, positive relationships, and learn skills and practices for thriving physically, socially, emotionally, academically, and professionally.
Heather Downs, Director of Academics at UVA Athletics, sees this growing partnership with CSC as key to expanding opportunities for student-athletes to flourish in all aspects of their lives. “Our goal is to propel them towards their own interests, their own values, their own life goals. We're integrating a lot more reflective experiences so that students can really dig deep and figure out more about themselves. Student wellness is the motivating factor for everything we're doing."
UVA Athletics and CSC plan to offer the Citizen Leaders and Sports Ethics Community Impact Fellowship to a new group of student-athletes each spring.
The 2020-2021 Fellows
Four student-athletes were selected as the inaugural fellows and are already beginning to implement their programs.
“I am so impressed that these student-athletes are dedicated to not only improving their own well-being and performance, but to thinking strategically about how to improve the lives of their teammates and the greater community of student-athletes at UVA,” says Hubbard.