Forming Partnerships and Linkages in Sport for Development and Peace: Considerations, Tensions, and Strategies

  • March 7-8, 2017
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Illini Union Ballroom


The purpose of this symposium is to bring together scholars and students engaged in sport for development and peace (SDP) to dialogue about forming and sustaining partnerships and linkages between SDP initiatives and other sectors, the challenges facing partnership development, and strategies to overcome these challenges. The symposium is hosted by the Department of Recreation, Sport, and Tourism (RST) at the University of Illinois, the Sport+Development Lab (SDL), and Play for Change. The SDL is home to faculty and graduate students researching the intersection of sport and development. Play for Change is a registered student organization (RSO) focused on involving undergraduate and graduate students in actionable projects that use sport, recreation, and tourism for social change.

The two evening events (Keynote Address and Town Hall Meeting) are open to the public. Due to generous support from sponsors, all events associated with the conference are provided free of charge.

The symposium is made possible by grants from the Illinois International Programs office and the Center for Health, Aging, and Disability at the University of Illinois.

While the symposium is free, registration is required.

Symposium Background

The sport for development and peace (SDP) field has grown exponentially in recent years, with more and more organizations, practitioners, and academics around the world embracing the possible contribution that sport can make to development agendas. SDP can occur at the individual, community, and societal levels. It can be defined as the use of sport as an engine for development through intercultural exchange, conflict resolution and peace building, community building, social inclusion, or programming for interpersonal development or health.

An emerging line of commentary in SDP concerns the nature of partnerships with various industry sectors. Without effective and sustainable partnerships, SDP organizations and scholars cannot viably engage in the field to effect social change; partnerships are the life blood of SDP organizations. However, many challenges and barriers exist that inhibit effective partnerships and linkages. From overcoming power dynamics, to misaligned goals and objectives, challenges can prevent organizations from establishing long-term partnerships and carrying out their missions. Given the international significance of partnerships and collaborations in SDP, much more conversation is needed about the nature of partnerships, their challenges, and effective strategies for forming and sustaining them. The intent of this symposium is to contribute significantly to this dialogue.

Symposium Format

Each day key scholars in the field will make presentations drawing from original papers written for this symposium. The focus of each presentation will be on developing partnerships and linkages between SDP and a specific sector. Presenters will provide a state of the field synopsis regarding partnerships with a sector, outline challenges for developing and sustaining them, and then propose strategies for addressing these challenges. Following, a discussant will offer a critique, response, and extension of the paper. The discussant is a scholar whose work has examined the specific industry sector. Each day will conclude with a working group session, with the goal of identifying common thoughts on strategies for SDP partnerships. These sessions will result in a concrete action plan presented in a white paper.

There will also be two evening public events. On the first night, Dr. John Sugden, one of the world’s foremost experts in SDP and partnership development, will provide a keynote address on the history and development of SDP, its current state of the field, and thoughts on developing and sustaining partnerships and linkages. The second night features a town hall meeting with the symposium presenters focused on the power of sport to work for social good and change, and the challenges associated with doing so.

Symposium Outcomes

Symposium papers (presenters and discussants) will be published in a book by Sagamore Publishers, edited by Jon Welty Peachey and B. Christine Green. A white paper will be published which summarizes the actionable steps emerging from the conference. It will be available on this web site. All symposium sessions will be video recorded, with the videos also available on this site.