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Faculty Scholars

Faculty Scholar Dorothy Schmalz, Ph.D. at  Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

Dorothy L. Schmalz, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management
Clemson University

Contact: 864-656-2184 or  

Who is Professor Schmalz?

Dorothy Schmalz completed a Ph.D. in recreation and leisure behavior at Penn State University with an emphasis on the social psychology of stigma on participation in physical activity. As a post-doctoral research associate for the Children’s Obesity Lab at Penn State University, she coordinated the data collection for a longitudinal study exploring social influences on girls’ eating and physical activity behaviors. Since arriving at Clemson University in 2005, Dorothy’s research has focused on activity and nutritional health behaviors of children and adults as influenced by perceived obesity stigma. Her research has been published in leisure and public health journals, and has been presented at national and international conferences. She has served as Associate Editor of Leisure Sciences, and co-Editor of special issues of The Journal of Leisure Research, and The Journal of Positive Psychology. Dorothy has been Principal or Co-Investigator on numerous studies exploring health behaviors and obesity, including a Healthy Parks Healthy People project sponsored by the National Park Service, and studies currently underway with the Greenville Health System with the Bariatric division and New Impact, a childhood obesity treatment program. In addition to weight-related health, Dorothy also has an interest in how leisure behavior and identity can serve as a means for risk reduction for and coping with breast cancer. She is an advocate for the value of recreation and leisure for preventive health and wellbeing, collaborating across fields and areas of expertise to contribute to the foundational knowledge in this area.

How Professor Schmalz's research is transforming health care

As a Ph.D. in leisure behavior, Dorothy’s research offers a unique and little pursued perspective within the health fields. Though often reduced to “free time” in common lexicon, leisure encompasses much more among leisure scholars. Countless proposed definitions can be summarized into leisure as “unobligated time, away from work, personal maintenance, evaluation and judgment, during which freely chosen and intrinsically motivated activities, both active and passive; social and solitary, are pursued for enjoyment and relaxation toward achieving a state of mind that supports rejuvenation, and contributes to overall quality of life, health, and wellbeing. 1” It is widely accepted that we currently live in a society in which stress and anxiety are contributing to increased frequency of insomnia, unhealthy eating and exercise, obesity, depression, and reduced overall quality of life. Attitudes toward, and participation in leisure has the potential to change the current direction of these chronic personal and social debilities. By collaborating with faculty and practitioners in the health fields, her research provides a valuable perspective that uses enjoyment and self-determination as a vehicle for health. To date, Dorothy’s agenda has focused on people with obesity, and identifying the stigmas they face that prohibit behavior change. As a CUSHR Faculty Scholar, she welcomes opportunities to apply the leisure perspective to existing and future research efforts toward the goal of identifying successful health prevention and treatment.

1. Schmalz, D. L., & Blomquist, K. K. (2016, in press). Time to eat: Implications for leisure-based eating for health and development. In D. A. Kleiber and F. A. McGuire (Eds). Leisure and Human Development (pp. TBD). Urbana, IL: Sagamore Publishing.

Health Research Expertise Keywords

Leisure Behavior, Obesity, Health Prevention, Quality of Life and Wellbeing, Stereotype and Stigma, Physical Activity, Eating Behavior