ERASMUS+ Sport and Social Cohesion Lab (SSCL)

Head of the project
Dr. Karen Petry

IESF staff entrusted with the project
Katrin Bauer M.A.
Louis Moustakas M.Sc.

Period of project
January 2021 – December 2023

Partners

  • In Safe Hands Ev (Germany)
  • Sport Against Racism Ireland (Ireland)
  • Institute Of Technology Tralee (Ireland)
  • The Hague University of Applied Science (Netherlands)
  • International Sports Alliance (Netherlands)
  • Palacky University Olomouc (Czechia)
  • INEX-SDA / fotbal pro Rozvoj (Czechia)
  • Swiss Academy for Development (Switzerland)
  • European Network of Sport Education (Austria)

Project Funding
European Commission - Erasmus+622025-EPP-1-2020-1-DE-SPO-SCP

Content
Given the increasing change and diversity in European cities, encouraging social cohesion more is seen as of the utmost importance for the stability, growth and solidarity of European cities.

Acknowledging the critical importance of social cohesion, over the last decade, sport and physical activity have become increasingly recognized and implemented as tools to foster social cohesion in neighbourhoods, cities and communities around Europe. As a result, numerous programmes have emerged that attempt to enhance social cohesion through a variety of sport-based approaches.

However, despite this boom in sport and social cohesion, there remain some “wicked problems” to be addressed. First and foremost, current definitions and understandings of social cohesion rarely take into account the needs, expectations or understanding of practitioners and participants on the ground. Second,  practitioners in the field often lack the skills and tools necessary to design, measure, evaluate and improve their programmes. And, finally, there is a lack of evidence, transparency and understanding of these programmes.

The Living Lab concept provides an innovative approach to address these gaps in knowledge and implementation. As such, the Sport for Social Cohesion Lab (SSCL) project will implement a Living Lab approach. This will directly engage programme participants, generate understanding of the elements that promote social cohesion in a sport setting and to develop relevant tools to allow for the exploration, measurement and improvement of social cohesion outcomes in highly diverse but vulnerable urban neighbourhoods.

Through this, the SSCL project aims to increase social cohesion in diverse, vulnerable urban neighbourhoods and support practitioners in delivering high-quality sport for social cohesion programmes. We do this by creating tools and disseminating knowledge based on a greater understanding of social cohesion at the neighbourhood level. In the end, the SSCL project will facilitate greater social cohesion for the neighbourhoods and individuals who need it most.

News

Mapping sport and social cohesion in Europe

Mapping sport and social cohesion in Europe

Mapping sport and social cohesion in Europe: An exploratory study

This study conducted a mapping of assets, activities, challenges, and opportunities among organisations using sport for social cohesion in Europe.

The use of sport to promote social cohesion has grown rapidly in recent years. This includes the use of sport for social inclusion and the integration of refugees and migrants. Public, private and third sector organisations are using sport as a vehicle to advance social cohesion in various contexts.

However, there are various challenges which continue to limit our understanding as to how sport and social cohesion programmes can be most effectively designed, delivered, and measured.

As such the Sport and Social Cohesion Lab (SSCL) project, an Erasmus+ funded initiative, seeks to tackle these gaps in knowledge and implementation. The project involves the following partners:

  • German Sport University (Coordinator, Germany)
  • The international platform on sport and development (sportanddev)
  • In safe hands e.V. (Germany)
  • Sport Against Racism Ireland (Ireland)
  • Munster Technological University (Ireland)
  • The Hague University of Applied Science (Netherlands)
  • International Sports Alliance (Netherlands)
  • Palacky University Olomouc (Czechia)
  • INEX-SDA / fotbal pro Rozvoj (Czechia)
  • European Network of Sport Education (Austria)

The study

As part of this project, an exploratory study was conducted to identify common features, challenges and best practices in sport for social cohesion. This study involved a background literature review, a global survey targeted at organisations using sport for social cohesion, and in-depth questionnaires for the NGO partners in the SSCL project.

The study seeks to contribute to better understanding of social cohesion at the practitioner level, and the programmatic factors that may influence success.

Click here for the full study.

Findings

Findings show that the use of sport for social cohesion has grown rapidly in recent times globally and in Europe. This is linked to the growth of the sport for development and peace (SDP) movement and changing demographic composition of European societies. Many actors and organisations across Europe are now using sport-based approaches to contribute to social cohesion goals and objectives.

However, despite this growth, there remain key limitations and discrepancies within current definitions and understandings of social cohesion. The use of sport for social cohesion exhibits a diversity of approaches, yet overall, there is a lack of evidence, transparency and understanding of these programmes. This is partly due to the fact that sport itself is a complex phenomenon, often undermined by idealistic notions of the ‘power of sport’. Further, actors using sport for social cohesion often lack the capacity needed to design, deliver, evaluate and improve their programmes.

Findings reveal that social cohesion is understood and applied in many different ways, with sport usually seen as a vehicle to enable such change. Programmes tend to target ‘vulnerable’ groups within society, including girls and women, refugees and migrants, and people with disabilities, with a particular focus on children and youth. Activities include sport-based volunteering, life skills sessions, workshops and trainings, all aimed at promoting inclusion, integration and mixing of groups.

Challenges and opportunities

Challenges and opportunities co-exist. This includes the need to build capacity among actors, especially around their ability to monitor and evaluate their work. There is a need to adopt more participatory approaches so that beneficiaries and other stakeholders are more involved throughout projects. Most interventions address individual and community issues, with limited engagement and understanding of the systemic and structural obstacles to social cohesion.

These findings will be used to strengthen the SSCL project, which aims to better understand and apply the use of sport for social cohesion across Europe. Project partners will adapt their grassroots initiatives based on these findings, and work with stakeholders to pilot a Living Lab approach in their settings. This approach will be tested, iterated and evaluated throughout, ultimately offering greater insights into the use of sport for social cohesion and implications of a Living Lab approach. Results will be shared publicly and disseminated widely, while further research is merited in this space.

Click here for the full study.

Kick-Off in February and March 2021
Survey Sport and Social Cohesion Lab

Outputs

Outputs

Prospective outputs

  • Assets, Needs and Activities Mapping Report (IO1)
  • Living Lab Framework (IO2)
  • Interim Neighbourhood Reports (IO3)
  • Final Neighbourhood Reports (IO4)
  • Sport and Social Cohesion Toolkit (IO5)

Contact

Louis Moustakas
email:
phone: +49 221 4982-2900