School of Public Health and Community Medicine

The Power of Sport: An Introduction to Sport for Social Change (GENM0709)


“Sport has the power to change the world... it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand.”  - Nelson Mandela

Over the past decade, international sport for social development (S4SD) has emerged as a new and exciting vehicle for international development and social change. Research indicates that if strategically designed and implemented, S4SD programs can  contribute  to improved physical and mental health,  international development and  peace building,  help build stronger communities, possibly impact social problems including homelessness, racism and substance abuse.

This course introduces students to the exciting new and emerging field of sport for development and social change (S4D/SC), where the power of sport goes well beyond the traditional playing fields to address health and social challenges. Through an inspiring mix of workshops, case studies, multi-media, guest experts, students will learn about the compelling power of this emerging field of sport for development and social change.

This course is perfect for students wanting to learn about affecting positive change in their communities, or globally, international development, community engagement, new avenues for engaging in sport, positive social impact and change.

Credit points

This is a six-unit general education course offered in an internal (weekly lecture) mode.

Mode of study

Internal (Face-to-Face) classes on campus.

Course aim

The aims of this course are to:

  • introduce and familiarize students with sport for development and social change ideology, theories and practices; 
  • foster students’ understanding of the difference between sports development and sport for development and social change;
  • enable students take part in today's sport for social change movement in a front role.
Course Outcomes
On successful completion of this course you will be able to:
  1. distinguish the difference between development of sport and sport for development and social change (S4D/SC);
  2. describe how sport for development and social change (S4D/SC) can also contribute to the development of sport at local, national and international levels;
  3. explain how health promotion, social science and development program theories relate to the sport for development and social change (S4D/SC) movement;
  4. apply advocacy strategies to promote the sport for development and social change (S4D/SC)  movement.
Learning and teaching rationale

The course offers students a combination of learning experiences, integrating both individual and group work throughout class time and assessment tasks. Students learn from lectures and readings, online engagement with key international networks and from each other in student-led tutorials. Students will engage in experiential learning through on-field experience, and special workshops with key experts from the field of S4d/SC.

Sport for social development and social change (S4D/SC) is becoming a popular topic among practitioners and researchers working in the areas of public health, education, gender equity, disability, youth development, economics and conflict, diplomacy and policy in particular in international development and relations.
In an era when traditional engines of social change and development are being increasingly criticized, sport is being seen by some as a vehicle that can reach communities with in ways that politicians, multilateral agencies and traditional community – oriented NGOs cannot.

This course is unique in that course content reflects a diversity of fields, thus is particularly appropriate to be offered within the General Education curricula.


Assessment Task 1 - Annotated Bibliography
Weighting: 30%

Assessment Task 2 - Interview and Analysis
Weighting: 30%
Length: 1000 words

Assessment Task 3 - Group Project - Conference Presentation and Peer Assessment
Weighting: 40%

Readings and resources

Learning resources for this course consist of the following:

  1. Course notes and readings (posted on Moodle)
  2. Lectures slides (posted in Moodle)
  3. Lecture recordings (available in Moodle)
  4. Supplementary resources such as videos, podcasts (available in Moodle)
Recommended text
The recommended text for this course is: Global Sport-for-Development: Critical Perspectives, Editors: Nico Schulenkorf, Daryl Adair, Palgrave Macmillan. This book is available online and as an ebook in the UNSW Library.