"Sport has the power to change the world [….] It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination"
Nelson Mandela (speaking at the Laureus Sports Awards, 2000)
I am both proud and honoured that Leeds Trinity University has been selected to host the ACU’s annual Summer School. It seems befitting that this year the Summer School will be held during the same week as the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham with the theme of ‘Sport and regeneration: Driving sustainability, community and wellbeing’.
The Summer School will be an opportunity to showcase some of the fantastic work happening in our local area of Leeds, and also internationally. We are particularly excited to hear from students: their experiences of sport in supporting sustainable development in their communities and their ideas and innovations for the future – looking beyond 2030 and how we might focus discussion on sport for regeneration.
The reach and audience of sport means it has long been recognised as a means of advancing social progress and enabling sustainable development. It has been used as a platform for raising awareness of global issues, reducing economic, social and capability inequality and generating economic income.
It has increasingly become a vehicle for education, for improving health and wellbeing, encouraging social inclusion, promoting fundamental human rights, promoting tolerance, diversity and inter-cultural understanding and reducing discrimination.
As we see with the Commonwealth Games, sport has the capacity to empower individuals and communities and become a source of civic pride. It is a means of developing social cohesion through a common interest. Undoubtedly sport offers great potential for encouraging social change and contributing to the global sustainability agenda, but this requires significant effort. It demands that future leaders recognise and harness this potential to develop policy and planning with regenerative action in mind.
A common factor across both sport and education is hard work, dedication and perhaps a little bit of talent spotting and nurturing by a teacher or lecturer along the way. One of the most important parts to remember in our jobs as higher education professionals is to inspire and invigorate those in our classrooms, to open their minds to new thoughts and ideas, and encourage them to be innovative and experimental. There is no better medium than education to transform lives, promote social justice and maybe - just maybe - change the world for the better.
That is the aspect of the ACU Summer School that I am perhaps most looking forward to, and it’s the area I’ve been keen to see reflected in the exciting programme of events my colleagues have put together. How can we channel our collective energy into this week of activities to expose our visitors to as many opportunities that will spark innovation in them?
What comes after that is up to the students, but my aspiration is that this Summer School changes their lives and that ripples into a positive outcome for us all.
Prof Charles Egbu
Vice Chancellor Leeds Trinity University