Københavns Universitet
Uafhængig af ledelsen


PhD defence: Youth peer leadership in practice

Ph.d.-forsvar — Julie Hellesøe Christensen is defending her PhD thesis: "Youth peer leadership in practice: balancing programme intentions, rationales and ‘peerness’ in a youth-led community sport programme"


Date & Time:

Festauditoriet, Bülowsvej 17, 1870 Frederiksberg

Hosted by:
Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen


About the thesis
This thesis is the result of an Industrial PhD project between the non-profit street sport organisation GAME, University of Copenhagen and Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen.

Peer education builds on rationales that peer leaders are credible and authentic role models to their peers because peers identify with each other based on their peer relationship; their ‘peerness’. However, although peer education is widely used in health promotion, the mechanisms of the approach are unclear, and there is little understanding of how the peer leadership component contributes to programme outcomes.

Therefore, this PhD study explored how the rationales of peer education can be enacted in peer-led physical activity programmes and how programmatic and contextual factors shape the possibilities of youth peer leaders in a community sport programme.

I conducted three sub-studies: a literature review and two empirical studies of GAME’s youth-led, peer-to-peer community sport programme. The primary methods were qualitative and quantitative observational methods. Based on the empirical studies,

I proposed that peer-led programmes should support peer leaders in activating their peerness to meet the rationales of peer education. To do so, I suggested that programme planners support the development of the knowledge forms techne (practical knowledge) and phronesis (practical wisdom) in peer leader training as this will contribute to activating and acknowledging peer leaders’ experiential and embodied knowledge.

A consequence of such an approach is that programme planners allow peer leaders to adapt the programme during implementation. This will involve a balancing of programme intentions, rationales, and peer leaders’ peerness.


Assessment committee
Associate professor Charlotte Svendler Nielsen (chair), Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Associate professor Iain Lindsey, Durham University, Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, UK.

Associate professor Thomas Skovgaard, University of Southern Denmark, DK.


Associate professor Glen Nielsen, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Co supervisor
Peter Bentsen, Health Promotion Research (SHPR), Steno Diabetes Center, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Marie Traasdahl Staal, GAME.