Research Profile

The German Sport University is the country’s only single-themed university in the domain of sport and exercise science. It therefore holds a special position amongst universities on a national and international level. Its research activities revolve around sport as a common and comprehensive reference point.

All relevant sport science issues are dealt with at this unique university in Germany, shared between 19 academic institutes. Humanities, social and business disciplines are also represented here, along with life sciences. These are complemented by four affiliate institutes and five transfer centres. The German Sport University utilises its excellent interdisciplinary research opportunities to ensure its position as a leader in both national and international sport and exercise science. Aware of its responsibility towards both sport and society, the university continually invests in innovation and emphasizes the growing significance of a physical active life-style in terms of health, social politics and economics. 

Fields of research cover the ethical, sociological, economic and educational aspects of sport as an integral element of society; questioning the influence of exercise or lack of exercise, training and nutrition on healthy and diseased people across all age groups. As well as the traditional application and practical research relating to sport and exercise science, the German Sport University is concentrating on basic research and the processing of interdisciplinary research issues. 

The four core research areas represent outstanding interdisciplinary research areas of the German Sport University Cologne as thematic focuses and are characterized by cross-institutional cooperation. They are based on the university's four main themes of performance, health, society and education and address major challenges facing society.

The core research areas are:

Mind in Motion

Mind in Motion

The „Mind in Motion“ profile’s focus is on the bidirectional relation between mental processes and movement. Following the mission statement of the German Sport University Cologne, research projects in this core research area address the leading themes performance and health. The individual and joint research projects gearing at basic research are concerned with integrating explanations of psychophysiological, neuropsychological and behavioral data against the background of sport as the common reference point. The research topics are predominantly developed from an interdisciplinary research perspective, aiming at integrating sports/movement science and disciplines of psychology, computer science, medicine, cognitive sciences, neurology or neuroscience in the context of movement.

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The physiological adaptation processes: Fundamentals and influencing...

The physiological adaptation processes: Fundamentals and influencing factors (cellular, biomechanical, morphological, and medication-induced)

This core research area focuses on projects and activities of researchers from three institutes interested in physiological adaptation processes of the musculoskeletal system to increased or reduced mechanical loading. The biomechanical, physiological, molecular and cellular adaptation processes under the influence of hormonal and/or drug stimuli are investigated. The medical and biological scientific questions are dealt within an interdisciplinary approach (biomechanics, physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, sports medicine) in the field of basic and pragmatic translational researches. The scientists work closely together with medical faculties and research groups from the universities of Cologne, Bonn, as well as from the German Aerospace Center (DLR). This enables a transfer to patho-physiological adaptation processes related to diseases and injuries affecting the locomotor system. In order to identify and characterize the adaptation mechanisms, highly sensitive analysis methods and innovative loading models are developed and applied. The adaptation processes of the musculoskeletal system are related to growth, remodeling and rehabilitation. A multilevel approach is followed, from molecule to human.

The aim of the core research area is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of the adaptation processes in order to better understand diseases and injuries, to enable optimal function of the musculoskeletal system, to identify regulatory mechanisms of the adaptation processes, and finally, to develop therapies and new diagnostic procedures. A translation of the research results into society is of primordial importance.

Most of the projects of the three involved institutes are funded by the German Research Foundation, the European commission, the World Anti Doping Agency and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

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Social functions and social responsibility of formal sports...

Social functions and social responsibility of formal sports organizations

Organizations today are challenged more than ever to highlight their usefulness for society. This includes both their positive contributions to society and the active containment of possible negative influences on society. Sport and its formal organizations are particularly affected by this, since they on the one hand receive public funding and are dependent on it but, on the other hand, they have to justify that they operate in a socially acceptable and beneficial manner.

Unpaid and voluntary commitment are key factors in sport and this is largely linked to the motivation to “do something good”. Due to this peculiarity sport is particularly suitable as a research field for investigating the general question of (the production of) social responsibility and public welfare in formal organizations.

In this core research area of the German Sport University, longitudinal analyses are carried out at regular intervals of the development of formal organizations of sport and their social functions (sport development reports), e.g. on the integration potential of sports clubs and its prerequisites. In further studies, the inclusion and exclusion processes of sport are analyzed, especially with regard to social diversity in sport. Furthermore, there is a focus on strategies of good governance, equal opportunities, and violence prevention in organized sport. The common goal is to analyze the conditions of public welfare and social responsibility of formal sport organizations.

Most of the research projects of the three participating institutes in this core research area are funded by the European commission, the Federal Institute of Sport Science and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

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School research and educational processes

School research and educational processes

The core research area includes research projects in which school processes and educational processes are investigated both at the institutional level (e.g. school, university) and at the personnel level. On the personnel level research refers to the addressees of sport-related educational processes (e.g. pupils) as well as the multipliers (e.g. physical education teachers). Finally, research is directed at the educational activity itself, i.e. the design of the teaching/learning activity, physical education or curricular concepts.

The disciplinary spectrum of the core research area includes research approaches of philosophy (e.g. ethics, responsibility as a subject of physical education) and psychology (e.g. personality development in/through sport/exercise) as well as application-specific research in sociology (e.g. heterogeneity/inclusion and school learning/teaching), pedagogy (e.g. sports schools) and school research in the narrower sense (e.g. teacher training).

The overall objective of research in this core research area is to consider sport, movement, and physical activity both as a means of learning at school and of educational processes ("Education through sport/movement"), and as a setting of educational and developmental processes ("Education in sport/movement"). This consideration has a focus on school age, but also concerns related stages of education and development (e.g. pre-school development, higher education, vocational training).

The methodological spectrum describes a balance of quantitative and qualitative procedures. For quantitative procedures, data from written surveys, video analyses, and experimental behavioural data are taken into account. Qualitative analyses are based in particular on interview and video data. In accordance with the subject matter, data collection is mainly carried out in the applied setting, but is complemented by experimental work.

Most of the research projects of the six participating institutes in this core research area are funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the European commission and other federal or regional Ministries.

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