Sports, culture and development cooperation 

Program of study

Sports, culture and development cooperation

Program coordinator

Åse Strandbu

Language of instruction




Main goal

The study program departs from the role of sport to achieve development outcomes which has often been referred to as “Sport for Development and Peace” (SDP). The program underpins the recent shift from the narrowed focus on economic objectives to incorporate social and cultural developments. In so doing, the program reflects on the United Nations (UN) recognition of sport as an enabler of sustainable development.

This study program was established in close collaboration with the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sport (NIF). Since the 1980s, NIF has been actively involved in various development projects, primarily in southern Africa. To date, several Norwegian sport and aid organizations use sport as a tool for development and peace work. A key feature in the field of sport and development has been the shift from material and financial aids to measures that emphasize strengthening competence building and knowledge exchange. In this light, the establishment of the “Sport, Culture and Development Cooperation” (SCDC) at NIH is based primarily on NIF's project Youth Sport Exchange Program (YSEP) and is to be considered as part of the exchange of sport knowledge, skills and competence building. The purpose of YSEP is to facilitate the exchange of sport volunteers between various parts of the world. The SCDC is therefore connected to an exchange program, developed with the goal of sending Norwegian youths for voluntary sport-related work for a year in a country in southern Africa. For Norwegian students, this entails a seven to twelve months placement within a host organization in southern Africa.

NIF is responsible for the practical and financial aspects of the exchange, while NIH is responsible for the academic content and financial cost of the study program. It is possible for students to go on exchange programs with other sport /aid organizations that use sport as a tool for development. The student will then carry the responsibility for organizing and financing the exchange. Nonetheless, this is subject to approval by the program officer in charge. Also, NIH can assist students in finding organizations operating in Africa or in other parts of the world.

A mandatory introductory course (IKU 201 Sport and development) is held during the fall semester which accounts for 10 credits. Another 10 credit mandatory course (UWC - Sport for development in the global south) will be conducted at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in South Africa. Additionally, the study program has three other mandatory courses and they are IKU210 Sport and development in practice 10 ECTS, SPM122  Sustaining Sport for Development and Peace programs 10 ECTS, and IKU220 Project paper 20 ECTS. 

Admission requirements

  • General admission requirements to higher education in Norway.
  • Completed minimum one year of studies on a university level, or other relevant higher education.
  • Internship agreement with an exchange program such as NIF's Youth Sport Exchange Program (YSEP) or with other sport /aid organizations that use sport as a tool for development.

NIH must approve the exchange program unless it is organized by a previously approved partner. 

Learning outcomes

Knowledge - after completing this study the student should be able to

  • demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the national and international history of sport and development; the role of sport and development in domestic and international sport; and the challenges sport and development actors face in their work.
  • gain fundamental knowledge about the role of sport as a tool for development and the limitations sport and physical activity have in this context.
  • acquire fundamental knowledge about sport as a cultural phenomenon in a multicultural Norway.
  • know the challenges and ethical dilemmas faced when conducting sport programs in a different cultural context.
  • understand the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the role of sport in sustainable development.

Skills - After completing this study the student should be able to

  • apply theoretical and practical knowledge in order to identify, formulate and analyze problem statements, as well as plan and carry out academic projects.
  • demonstrate extensive practical competence and an understanding of various sport methodologies relating to development work.
  • contribute to higher competence and innovative thinking in the development of sustainable sport and development projects.
  • demonstrate the relationship between theoretical and practical knowledge of sport in other cultures and multicultural Norway.
  • independently update and apply his or her knowledge about sport and development.

General competence - After completing this study the student should be able to:

  • work with sport in different cultural contexts.
  • understand and appropriately use the ethical problems associated with working as a sport volunteer.
  • convey sport-specific knowledge and knowledge about the impact of sport for personal and social development in various cultural contexts.
  • actively participate in academic discussions and assist in the development of relevant aid projects.
  • understand the theoretical dimensions of sustainable development and how they can be applied in the field of sport for development.  

Compulsory courses

Course codeCourse titleECTSSemesterAcademic responsible
IKU201Sport and development10 ECTSFallÅse Strandbu
IKU211Sport and development in practice10 ECTSFallÅse Strandbu
IKU221Intership “Youth Sport Exchange Program (YSEP)”Fall and springNorwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports (NIF), and partner organizations in Africa
SPM122Sustaining sport for development and peace programs10 ECTSFall and springDerrick Charway
IKU220Research Project20 ECTSSpringÅse Strandbu
UWCTopics provided by the University of Western Cape (RSA)10 ECTSSpringUniversity of the Western Cape (contact: Åse Strandbu)