Adam Benkwitz

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Dr Adam Benkwitz is a Reader in the Sociology of Sport and Health; a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA); and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health (FRSPH). He was formerly Head of Subject for Health and Social Care and Sport at Newman. In 2019 Adam won a national ‘Advance HE Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE)’, along with colleagues and students for their work on mentoring and learning analytics. He currently works on a range of research projects with partners including Rethink Mental Illness, Sport England, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust (BSMHFT, where he is Chair of the Recovery Committee), Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust, Aston Villa Football Club Foundation, Birmingham MIND, Birmingham and Solihull Recovery College, Sport Birmingham, West Midlands Combined Authority, Birmingham County FA, as well as colleagues at numerous other HEIs. He co-leads the ‘Mental Health through Sport’ partnership with Sport Birmingham, WMCA and BSMHFT. He acts as an External Examiner at Edge Hill University, acts as a reviewer of grants for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), and Advance HE, as well as being a member of Birmingham City Council’s ‘Mentally Healthy City’ Forum. Adam teaches across a number of undergraduate and postgraduate modules, as well as contributing to the University’s doctoral training programme. He currently supervises three PhD students, and he has been involved in numerous staff/student projects relating to student engagement, mentoring and enhancing the student experience via learner analytics.​

Other Activities

Membership of Professional Organisations

  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA).
  • Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health (FRSPH)
  • Member of the International Sociology of Sport Association (ISSA).
  • Member of, and former Honorary Researcher with, the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust (BSMHFT).
  • Member of the Recovery Research Network (RRN).

Adam also acts a PhD supervisor for the following:

  • Irfan Khawaja (2016-) – ‘Exploring Children’s Physical Activity Behaviours according to Location.’;
  • Imran Ali (2016-) – ‘A study of the development of the BSMHFT Recovery College’;
  • Laura Scoles (2020-) – ‘Evaluating the Moving Lives, Healthy Minds project funded by Comic Relief’s Ahead of the Game fund’.

Academic Publications

Ali, I., Benkwitz, A., and McDonald, P. (2022) Setting up a Recovery College: Exploring the Experiences of Mental Health Service-users, Staff, Carers and Volunteers. Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Mental Health,

Ali, I., Benkwitz, A., McDonald, P., Allen, K., and Glover, A. (2022) Reflections on Co-production, Lived Experience and the Shared Learning Environment within the Development and Early Delivery of a Recovery College. Journal of Recovery in Mental Health, 5(2)

Healy, L., Benkwitz, A., McVinnie, Z., Sarkar, M., Nevil, M., and Islin, M. (2022) Final Evaluation Report: Impact of Embedding Physical Activity into Peer Support Groups. Rethink Mental Illness and Sport England,

Khawaja, I., Woodfield, L., Collins, P., Benkwitz, A., and Nevill. (2020) Tracking Children’s Physical Activity Patterns across the School Year: A Mixed-Methods Longitudinal Case Study. Children,7, (10), 78,

Parkes, S., Benkwitz, A., Bardy, H., Myler, K., and Peters, J. (2020) Being more human: Rooting learning analytics through resistance and reconnection with the values of Higher Education. Higher Education Research and Development Journal, 39(1), pp.113-126

Khawaja, I., Woodfield, L., Collins, P., Benkwitz, A., and Nevill, A. (2019) Exploring Children’s Physical Activity Behaviours According to Location: A Mixed-Methods Case Study. Sports, 7, 240.

Benkwitz, A., Morris, M., and Healy, L. (2019) An Ethnographic Study Exploring Football Sessions for Medium-Secure Mental Health Service-Users: Utilising the CHIME Conceptual Framework as an Evaluative Tool. Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Mental Health

Benkwitz, A., and Healy, L. (2019) ‘Think Football’: Exploring a Football for Mental Health Initiative Delivered in the Community through the Lens of Personal and Social Recovery. Mental Health and Physical Activity. 17(1),

Benkwitz, A., Parkes, S., Bardy, H., Myler, K., Peters, J., Akhtar, A., Keeling, P., Preece, R., & Smith, T. (2019) Using student data: Student-staff collaborative development of compassionate pedagogic interventions based on learning analytics and mentoring. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport, and Tourism Education.

Benkwitz, A. (2016) The Perils of Ethnography: Studying Football Fan Rivalry in Birmingham. In: Purdy, L., and Molnar, G. Ethnographies in Sport and Exercise Research. London, Routledge, pp. 141-154.

Benkwitz, A., and Molnar, G. (2016) The Emergence and Development of Association Football: Influential Sociocultural Factors in Victorian Birmingham. Soccer and Society. DOI:10.1080/14660970.2015.1133409.

Miller, P., and Benkwitz, A. (2016) Where the Action is: Towards a Discursive Psychology of “Authentic” Identity in Soccer Fandom. Psychology of Sport and Exercise. 23(1), 40-50.

Benkwitz, A. (2016) Brief Encounters with Qualitative Methods in Health Research: Ethnography. Cumbria Partnership Journal of Research, Practice and Learning, 5(1), 3-7. Accessed from:

Benkwitz, A. (2015) A Social History of Tennis in Britain [Review]. The International Journal of the History of Sport, 32(9), 1220-1221, DOI:10.1080/09523367.2015.1040611.

 Benkwitz, A., and Molnar, G. (2012) Interpreting and Exploring Football Fan Rivalries: An Overview. Soccer and Society, 13(4), 479-494.

Grants & Funding Awarded:

£15,000 – ReThink Mental Illness – Research Evaluation of Physical Activity Navigator Project. January 2022 to May 2023, in partnership with lead collaborators at Nottingham Trent University.

£424,457 – Comic Relief ‘Ahead of the Game’ fund, “Moving lives, healthy minds” project. January 2020 – May 2023. In partnership with collaborators Sport Birmingham and Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust.

£10,000 – MIND Sport and Physical Activity Regional Network Hub – West Midlands. November 2019 – December 2021. In partnership with lead collaborator Sport Birmingham.

£30,000 – Rethink Mental Illness & Sport England: Movement For All Tender. September 2018-December 2021, in partnership with colleagues at Nottingham Trent University.

£34,579 – Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) – Research Evaluation of the BSMHFT Recovery College, November 2015-September 2019.

£48,027 – Collaborative development of pedagogic interventions based on learning analytics, HEFCE Catalyst Fund: Innovations in learning and teaching, and addressing barriers to student success, December 2016-March 2018.

£2,500 – Academic Development Fund (School of Human Sciences), Evaluation of Football for Mental Health Service, in partnership with Aston Villa Football Club Foundation, November 2016-June 2017.

£852 – Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Award / HEA Funded Student / Staff Partnership – Student mentoring Project, January 2015-June 2016.

£845 – Academic Practice Unit – Student / Staff Partnership – Student Peer Mentoring Project, December 2016-June 2017.

£1,154 – HEFCE Funded Learning Analytics Project (Using Student Engagement Data) – Phase One, February 2017-June 2017.

£2,305 – Academic Development Project Fund (Faculty of Arts, Society and Professional Studies), Student Mentoring in a Mental Health and Football Project, in partnership with Aston Villa Football Club Foundation, October 2017-June 2018.

Conference  Presentations:

Benkwitz, A., & Hipkiss, R. (2019) Working in Partnership to Enhance Mental Health through Sport: Using the CHIME Framework. Allied Health Professionals Conference at BSMHFT, 15th March 2019.

Parkes, S., Benkwitz, A., & Bardy, H. (2018) Student-Staff Partnerships: Responding Compassionately to ‘Big Data’. 6th International Academic Identities Conference (IAIC), Hiroshima University, Japan, 20th September 2018.

Benkwitz, A., and Healy, L. (2018) Utilising the CHIME Conceptual Framework to Explore a Co-Produced Football for Mental Health Initiative Delivered in the Community in Birmingham, UK. 6th International Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise (QRSE), University of British Columbia, Canada, 5th June 2018.

Benkwitz, A. (2018) Evaluating the Lived Experiences of Medium-Secure Service-Users in a Football Therapy initiative. Secure Research Committee, BSMHFT, Birmingham, 15th March 2018.

Parkes, S., Benkwitz, A., and Bardy, H. (2018) Learning Analytics in the Student Centred University: Perspectives and Partnerships at Newman University. European First Year Experience (EFYE), Utrecht University, The Netherlands, 26th June 2018.

Benkwitz, A. (2017) Mental Health and Sport: Reflecting on an Ethnographic Study of ‘Football Therapy’ Sessions in the National Health Service (NHS) in Birmingham, UK. The European Conference on Mental Health (ECMH), Berlin, Germany, 4th-6th October 2017.

Benkwitz, A. (2016) ‘Mental Health and Physical Activity: An Ethnographic Study of Football Sessions in Birmingham’. The 5th International Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise Conference (QRSE), at Chichester University, 1-3rd September 2016.

Clark, J., and Benkwitz, A. (2016) ‘The Development of the Birmingham Recovery College for Mental Health’. The Conference for the Launch of the ‘Mental Health Research and Innovation Hub’ at the National Centre for Mental Health, Birmingham, 23rd February 2016.

Benkwitz, A. (2014) ‘Reflecting on the Benefits and ‘Perils’ of Ethnography’. The 4th Annual International Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise Conference (QRSE), at Loughborough University, 1-3rd September 2014.

Benkwitz, A. (2014) ‘Conflict and Rivalry between Football Fans in the City of Birmingham: Using Ethnography to Explore Territoriality’. University of Bergamo’s (Italy) Etnografia e Ricerca Qualitativa, 5-7th June 2014.