Prof Emma Cohen awarded Innovation Fellowship from The British Academy

Date Published: 20.04.2023

Emma's research will address the challenge of effective delivery of The Daily Mile in Northern Ireland.

Wadham Fellow in Human Sciences, Prof Emma Cohen has been granted an Innovation Fellowship from The British Academy. The Fellowships are designed to support solutions-focused knowledge exchange, and to enable early and mid-career researchers in the SHAPE disciplines to partner with organisations and businesses outside of academia to address societal challenges. In Emma's case, she will be partnering with The Daily Mile Foundation.

The Daily Mile is an initiative aimed at improving the physical and mental health of children. It’s a social activity where children run or jog, at their own pace, for 15 minutes every day at school.

The Project

Emma's research will address the challenge of effective delivery of The Daily Mile in Northern Ireland using a cultural transmission approach. She describes the aims further:

"The Daily Mile is an inclusive, school-based intervention that has achieved extremely wide reach globally. Properly implemented, it can tackle problems associated with physical inactivity in children and help recovery from the detrimental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s physical, mental and social wellbeing.

The exchange, research and impact activities of this project aim to support schools in implementing The Daily Mile effectively, with a particular focus on Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland children are least likely to meet recommended levels of physical activity compared with other parts of the UK and Europe and, due to patchy funding and policy backing across the UK, schools in NI have received least support for The Daily Mile.

Schools in NI have received least support for The Daily Mile.

This project develops an innovative cultural transmission approach, drawn primarily from the cognitive-evolutionary anthropology of affiliation-based social learning, to support programme delivery for community-led health behaviour change in schools and beyond."

Emma added, “I’m delighted to have this opportunity to continue to develop this new partnership with The Daily Mile Foundation and to engage with the great work they are doing to support our children’s health and wellbeing.

It’s exciting to apply the basic research on cultural transmission to such an important real-world challenge for the first time and a very special privilege to do so in my home country of Northern Ireland.”

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