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Debates-as-battles have characterized the histories of physical education and kinesiology. This colorful part of the field’s history was characterized by leaders’ narrow, rigid views, and it paved the way for divisiveness, excessive specialization, and fragmentation. Today’s challenge is to seek common purpose via stewardship-oriented dialogue, and it requires a return to first order questions regarding purposes, ethics, values, moral imperatives, and social responsibilities. These questions are especially timely insofar as kinesiology risks running on a kind of automatic pilot, seemingly driven by faculty self-interests and buffered from consequential changes in university environments and societal contexts. A revisionist history of kinesiology’s origins and development suggests that it can be refashioned as a helping discipline, one that combines rigor, relevance, and altruism. It gives rise to generative questions regarding what a 21st century discipline prioritizes and does, and it opens opportunity pathways for crossing boundaries and bridging divides. Three sets of conclusions illuminate unrealized possibilities for a vibrant, holistic kinesiology—a renewed discipline that is fit for purpose in 21st century contexts.
Lawson is a professor in the Department of Educational Policy & Leadership & The School of Social Welfare, University at Albany, The State University of New York, Albany, NY. Kretchmar is professor emeritus with the Department of Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.