Mr David Schmidtke

I find doing a PhD in social marketing especially motivating. I think knowing your research is going to benefit society helps with that~ David Schmidtke

David Schmidtke is a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidate from the Department of Marketing and from Social Marketing @ Griffith in Griffith Business School.

Mr Schmidtke is a finalist in the Griffith 3-Minute Thesis competition 2019, and the runner-up winner from Griffith Business School. He is a Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) coordinator for Griffith Business School and was a Griffith representative at the global Hult Prize Competition 2016, 2017 and 2019. He is a co-founder of a not-for-profit called Via Sport and was a grant recipient from the Australia-Indonesia Institute to launch Via Sport’s AFL 9s program in Bali.

He is currently concentrating on his PhD research in social marketing titled, ‘Using social marketing principles to address challenges in low and middle income countries.’ which is about looking at evaluating the efficacy of social marketing to overcome challenges in a poor community in (Khayelitsha, Cape Town) South Africa.


Profile Questions:

1. What is your PhD about and what was the catalyst for your interest in social marketing to assist poor communities in South Africa? What was your ‘personal why’ for doing this?

My PhD research is situated in Khayelitsha, which is the second-largest slum in South Africa. In Khayelitsha, according to the last census, over 60% of children are not completing their secondary education. This creates a significant barrier for children in the community gaining employment and breaking the cycle of poverty as they mature into adulthood. My research seeks to understand this complex problem and ultimately identify root-causes to school dropout. In 2016, I spent 2 months working at a small NGO in Cape Town, South Africa, where I planned, implemented and evaluated a variety of short-term education programs for children from a poor community. This experience, was the key catalyst for my current PhD interest.

2. What were the main socio-economic issues or problems identified in your research degree and thesis?

I completed a four-month ethnography study. During the study I lived in the community with a host family and worked with a local research assistant to collect data. During my time in the community, I visited homes, programs and worked as an assistant teacher at both a primary and high school. I collected a variety of data from interviews, focus groups and observations. Idleness children faced after-school each day and a lack of positive role models in the community, emerge as root-causes to children not completing their education.

3. What were the key questions or areas of investigation in your research degree and have any gaps or solutions been identified for the communities involved?

In the final month of my stay in the community, I worked with over 35 students and community leaders to co-create an after school program to be delivered in the community. My goal post-PhD is to pilot and scale this afterschool program in the community, to hopefully help address the issue of school dropout.

4. Why did you create a social enterprise called Via Sport, what programs do they specialise in and how was the AFL 9’s program received in Bali?

While participating in DFAT’s Australian Indonesian Youth Exchange Program over the 2016/17 summer, I was given the opportunity to live and work in a remote village in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Through that experience, we identified a need for a low-cost, context-free sport for teenage girls to participate in. We piloted an AFL 9’s program during the exchange program, and was able to attract grant funding from the Australian Indonesia Institute. After securing this funding we founded Via Sport and implemented a 12-month sports program pilot in Bali, Indonesia at five high schools. The pilot was a success, and our evaluation demonstrating increased physical activity among teenage girls, through improving their motivation and opportunity to play sport through our program. I am currently working with Dr Joy Parkinson and Dr Bo Pang at Griffith University, on a journal article evaluating the pilot sports program, due for submission in early 2020.

5. Why did you choose Griffith University for your research degree, who were your supervisors and how did they assist your degree?

I have found Griffith University to be a great place to study and work. I completed my Bachelor of Business with Honours at Griffith and have held numerous work appointments, such as, Sessional Academic, Course Convener, Lecturer, Tutor and PASS Program Coordinator. At Griffith, I feel supported, while at the same time given the freedom to take on ambitious challenges across various study and work projects. My supervisors for my PhD are Professor Krzysztof Kubacki, Professor Sharyn Rundle-Thiele, and Dr Georgette Leah-Burns. Collectively, my supervisors have been able to provide excellent guidance across the three studies I am undertaking in my PhD.