On February 24 and March 5th, partners from the Sport and Social Cohesion Lab (SSCL) gathered online to officially kick-off this new, innovative, pan-European project.
Given the increasing change and diversity in European cities, encouraging social cohesion is of the utmost importance for stability, growth and solidarity. In particular, we see that sport and physical activity have become increasingly recognized and implemented as tools to foster social cohesion in communities around Europe.
However, despite this boom in sport and social cohesion, there remain some “wicked problems” to be addressed. Most pressingly, current definitions and understandings of social cohesion rarely take into account the needs, expectations or understanding of practitioners and participants on the ground. In turn, this leads to programmes, approaches and evaluations that do not reflect the needs and realities on the ground.
To address this, a collaborative, participatory approach is needed. As such, the Sport for Social Cohesion Lab will implement a Living Lab approach through NGO-University partnerships in four different countries. These Living Labs will directly engage programme participants, generate understanding of the elements that promote social cohesion in a sport setting and to develop relevant tools to allow for the exploration, measurement and improvement of social cohesion outcomes in highly diverse urban neighbourhoods.
Through this, the SSCL project aims to increase social cohesion and support practitioners in delivering high-quality sport for social cohesion programmes.
Moving forward, we will first conduct an in-depth analysis of the situation in the four partner NGOs and also conduct a broader European mapping exercise. This information will allow us to tailor the Living Lab approach to each unique setting.
This project is co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme, and features ten partners from six different European countries. As part of the project, ENSE will support the development of the living lab approach and take a leading role in dissemination activities. More detailed information about the project and the partners can be found here.