Focus and objectives

Interdisciplinary approach

Given the significant growth in the societal and scholarly interest in sport, the focus area Sport & Society offers a unique opportunity to work on a better understanding of the societal meaning of sport and to answer theoretical questions around co-creating public value in and through sport. Such questions are relevant in various disciplines, such as sociology, psychology, pedagogy, anthropology, medicine, law, economics, governance and organizational studies, geography and veterinary medicine, and are rarely unidimensional but require attention from various disciplines working together rather than separately. 

By examining social issues through the lens of sport, the focus area will strengthen and add vitality to all strategic themes at Utrecht University:


Sport & Society’s targets are aimed at academic development and quality, and societal relevance. Therefore, Sport & Society invests in knowledge exchange and knowledge dissemination, meetings and education programs. Seed money is provided to enhance academic output and applications for bulky grants, such as Horizon 2020 en Erasmus+ and NWO. An independent jury judges the seed money proposals.

In its first period as focus area (2014-2018), Sport & Society focused on network development and stimulating promising projects, such as research into the significance of sport and exercise for chronically ill, preschoolers and refugees, research into integrity in sports organizations, and innovation in education. In this period, Sport & Society managed to develop 31 research projects and to connect approximately 75 scientists to its domain. This has contributed to the fact that many individual researchers from various faculties and research groups generated external funding. 

In the current period (2018-2022), Sport & Society focuses on the implementation of a joint research program in which scientists from various disciplines work together on a structural basis and develop a joint body of knowledge. Sport & Society lays the foundation for a recognized and excellent research and education program, which distinguishes itself nationally and internationally and belongs to the scientific summit in its field.  

Why Sport and Society matters

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