Can learning to move foster sustainable development? A systematic literature review examining the potential of sport and physical activity in the context of environmental and sustainability education

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In order to move forward the agenda of sustainable development through Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE), there is a need for learning activities that go beyond mere knowledge transmission. Characterised by their holistic and experiential nature, sport and physical activity may carry a potential of supporting and fostering the pedagogical purposes of ESE and thereby contribute to the vision of sustainable development. However, there has been little research on the relationship and synergy between sport and physical activity for ESE and no systematic literature review on this topic has been conducted yet. Against this background, the goal of this study is to inquire into the pedagogical potential of sport and physical activity with regard to the objectives of ESE based on the published empirical research. This study employs a systematic literature review approach followed by a thematic analysis. In all, 16 articles meeting the inclusion criteria were included in the review. The results suggest that sport and physical activity can contribute to ESE through their ability to promote (1) embodied, experiential and holistic learning, (2) positive effects in the context of prebehavioural factors and behavioural change(s) for more sustainable behaviour through increased environmental awareness and action, (3) learning-related effects on individuals defined by self-development and personal growth as well as social skills including cooperation and participation. On the other hand, some studies suggest that sport and physical activity might also cause negative or no significant effect at all. Overall, this study provides a first integrative overview on the pedagogical potential of sports and physical activity for ESE.

Translated title of the contributionKann bewegungsorientiertes Lernen eine nachhaltige Entwicklung fördern? Eine systematische Literaturübersicht zur Untersuchung des Potenzials von Sport und körperlicher Aktivität im Kontext von Umwelt- und Nachhaltigkeitsbildung
Original languageEnglish
JournalGerman Journal of Exercise and Sport Research
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)29-42
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 03.2024

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