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Durham University

Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences

Sport and Physical Activity for Societal Change

Why we research this area

Participating in sport or physical activity can empower individuals and communities, benefitting health and wellbeing, development, stability and peace. We know, however, that participation does not necessarily lead to such outcomes and opportunities are not equally available. Researchers in this theme focus on improving, developing and testing the use of policies and interventions to reduce inequalities and find new ways of making sport and physical activity available and beneficial across society.

What we do:

We examine the design and implementation of sport and/or physical activity policies and interventions, including the role of sport for development, paediatric obesity prevention, and reducing inequalities in health. Our staff and research students work with a range of partners including the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Department of Health, and funders the National Institute for Health Research, the Leverhulme Trust, the MRC and the ESRC. Our current research projects include:

How we've made a difference:

Our research from different projects has contributed to international policies, national and local programmes and local communities and individuals. One example of our international capacity building in the field is presented in the following short film:

Sport-for-development research: Involving young African practitioners

Sport-for-development research: Involving young African practitioners

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This film showcases the involvement of young African sport practitioners in undertaking research as part of a broader project investigating 'Sustainable Development in African Sport' funded by the Leverhulme Trust. To see and access other results and publications from this research project, please visit: For further information about this research project, please visit: