The German Sport University Cologne (GSU) is Germany's most important academic centre of teaching and research in physical education and sport science and one of the largest specialised universities world-wide. With 22 academic departments it covers a wide range of sport science in teaching and research. More than 30 sports are taught in theory and practice in modern facilities. Around 5.500 students, including 350 foreign students, are studying at the GSU, which offers academic bachelor's and master's degrees, teaching certificates for various school levels, and a doctoral degree. The Institute of European Sport Development and Leisure Studies and its chair for sport politics work towards contributing to the European dimension of sport in particular and to the international development of sport structures in general.
The on-going interdependence of sport and other societal fields, the increasing economic power of sport, the growing influence of governmental and non-governmental actors on the organisation of sport, its framework and the continuing Europeanisation and globalisation have increased the importance of sport politics. However, the development of a political science inspired approach to sport and the formation of a particular branch addressing the broad range of sport-related political issues are still at the very beginning.
Against this background, activities of the IESF aim to cooperate with national and international academics in order to bring together findings from political, social and sport sciences. The overall goal is to illustrate the specific core of sport political action by taking into account the three dimensions polity (structural-institutional), politics (procedural) and policy (content-related). For all dimensions it is important not only to consider the horizontal differentiation between federative autonomy and governmental regulation, but also the vertical differentiation between local, regional, national, European and international levels, to meet the needs of a sport political multi-level system. This view is mirrored in the two main research areas of the Institute: national, European and international sport systems and politics and the role of sport in the international development cooperation.