The Sport & Social Impact Research Group

The Sport and Social Impact Research Group (SSIRG) of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Western University is a collection of scholars whose research focuses around sport and physical activity.

Sport, in all its manifestations, is a significant social phenomenon and a potentially vital factor in the wellbeing of individuals and communities. Ranging from “physical literacy” (the mastery of fundamental movement) to elite performance, as a participation or entertainment activity, engagement in sport and physical activity is an important determinant of physical, social, emotional, psychological, and economic health. It is part of the ‘fabric’ of local communities and often a rallying point of national pride. Importantly, sport and physical activity is linked to many of the critical issues and questions facing Canadian society, including Indigenous and rural communities, aging, obesity, mental health, disability and mobility, equity and social inclusion, social justice, reconciliation, human enhancement, social media and marketing, volunteerism, youth development, social capital, and concussion. Sport is both a viable and valuable context for examining these critical and complex issues leading to knowledge that informs policy and practice for social change and better quality of life.

Objectives of SSIRG

  1. To promote knowledge sharing of research in sport and its impact on individual and community wellbeing.
  2. To promote disciplinary and interdisciplinary inquiry into sport and its social impact.
  3. To support the continued development and sustenance of international research networks.
  4. To provide an enriched experience for new researchers and graduate students interested in sport and social impact research.
  5. To celebrate Western Kinesiology as the home to world-renowned sport and social impact scholarship.
  6. To support the Strategic Research Plans of the Faculty of Health Sciences and School of Kinesiology.

Sport and Scholarship at Western

The School of Kinesiology in particular is home to a number of well-established and developing scholars whose research examines the origins, development, impact, and future of sport and physical activity in society. As a formalized research group, SSIRG provides a valuable opportunity to promote interaction, mutual support, and collaboration among these individual scholars.

There is a long history of sport excellence in the School of Kinesiology (former Faculty of Physical Education) at Western, with nationally-recognized interuniversity athletics and campus recreation programs, the International Centre for Olympic Studies, and the birthplace of the Special Olympics movement in Canada. There is also a long and continuing tradition of research excellence in the various subfields of sport inquiry (including philosophy, history, management, social psychology, biomechanics, nutrition, physiology, and sport medicine), with much of that research supported by Tri-Council and major grant funding.

SSIRG represents and will continue to advance this very high level of scholarship and research productivity while promoting a network of scholars who may further benefit from these connections. SSIRG will facilitate innovative collaboration and interdisciplinary research that is needed to tackle increasingly complex issues in society (e.g., sport concussion, disability sport, sport for development), to mobilize knowledge to new and broader audiences, to facilitate (stronger) connections with academic alumni of this world-renowned sport studies program, and to strengthen the role of the School of Kinesiology at Western as a leader in sport and social impact scholarly activity. This will be enhanced by linkages with signature areas of the FHS Strategic Research Plan; namely, “On the Move: Leading Research in Mobility” and “Social Determinants of Health: Leading Research Aimed at Health Equity and Social Inclusion.”