Tuesday, July 28, 2009

25th FISU conference - Declaration of Belgrade

July 5th, 2009
The role of university sports in education and society
A platform for change
The International University Sport Federation (FISU) Conference, was held from July 2nd to 5th 2009, on the occasion of the 25th Universiade in Belgrade, Serbia.
More than 130 researchers, professors, university rectors, students and university sports officials from 35 countries from the five continents underlined the unique importance and special opportunities which university sport in the widest terms can contribute to the educational process within higher education. They also insisted on the fact that sport is much more than a tool for education: it should be established as a human right and part of human responsibilities.
The main theme of “University sports, a platform for change”, was chosen in the context of the new “knowledge society”, but also in the context of the economical, societal and ecological crisis affecting the whole world. The Intention was to elaborate on the undoubted value of participation in sport as part of a life-long learning process.
Internationally renowned keynote speakers variously demonstrated that knowledge generates new opportunities and power for mankind, but this requires more responsibility and accountability. Making ethics and value systems endogenous to the decision systems, in all fields including sports, is an absolute necessity for the global sphere, in order to realize world stability, sustainability, understanding and peace.
I – Conference participants discussed the fact that University Sport has the power to develop social, educational, cultural and ethical responsibility in young people. They strongly advocated an increasing role for University Sport as a key driver, both in offering the student a comprehensive educational experience and in delivering well founded, young citizens for the future.
Involvement in University Sport brings in particular the following benefits:
• Character formation and consolidation of ethical values, based on the respect for others, on fair-play and on truth; • Acknowledgement of cultural diversity and the appreciation of intercultural contact.;
• Team working, advanced levels of autonomy and self regulation, with obvious benefits at both cognitive and motivational levels;
• social competencies and active citizenship; • Organisation and project planning;
• Development of higher levels of thought and decision making; • Life long learning - emotional intelligence and balance of the “self”, especially through the capacity to defer gratification and to manage strategic long-term objectives; • Good mental and physical health and increased productivity; • Improved mobility as skilled, international and inter-generational communicators;
II - The development of these valuable skills through engagement in the field of university sport should be formalised.
1/ Participants emphatically welcomed the concept that Universities should organize physical education, physical activities, sport for all and competitive high level sport, as part of both extracurricular and required programs.
2/ Participants, while assessing their support for the general principle, urge organisations with competencies in higher education, all over the world, to engage in co-
ordinating their policies to reach in the short term the following objectives, which are considered to be of primary relevance:
- development of transversal multidisciplinary scientific researches and educational programs including ethics, value systems, anti-doping, fair play, physical education, healthy lifestyle and sport ;
- multidisciplinary courses should be formalised through specific diplomas or a credit point system in higher education.
- readiness of universities to provide sports facilities for students and university personnel to take part in physical exercise and sport activities according to their interests and aptitudes. To make effective, innovative use of resources, government and educational authorities will need to partner each other in the maintenance and development of quality facilities, especially those located within academic communities. Furthermore, university sport support services should be established as a core function of the university welfare and administration services, guaranteeing that students’ views are continually monitored;
- making universities « central databases » for study and research in ethics, value systems, anti-doping, fair play, physical education, physical activities healthy lifestyle and sport;
- making universities the center of learning and exchange of information for the community so as to lead to cultural exchange;
- creating and continuously developing networking among universities, both nationally and internationally;
3/ Participants hereby undertake to attain these objectives within the framework of their institutional capabilities and taking full respect of the diversity of cultures, languages, national education systems and of University autonomy. To that end they will pursue the possibilities of inter-universitiy co-operation.
4/ Participants expect universities to contribute actively to the achievment of those goals.
5/ University sports – competitive sports and sports for all – is a major value added to youth and to human society, even though it is not equally developped in diverse nations, regions and continents. Participants ask FISU to emphasize the scientific analysis of university sports and impulse a world wide strategy :
-to develop new concepts and models of sports practices based on active, creative involvment of students in sports, cultural and artistic activities.
-to insure that university sports is sufficiently considered at all political and educational levels in diverse nations, regions, continents.
6/ Participants support and urge FISU to continue to develop a strategy in support of the above, which would utilise its international links with members and partners to develop a capacity building platform for accreditation and life long learning through university sport. In particular, it is suggested that FISU should establish formal links and cooperation with :
-UNESCO, the leading world organisation in the essential fields of education, culture and ethical values. FISU should be active in participating in the works of CISEPS, the UNESCO permanent intergovernemental Committee for physical Education and Sport.
-WADA, the leading world organisation for antidoping education.
-CIFP, the International Committee for Fair Play.
This will make greater the University Sports and FISU contribution to the practice and endogenisation of ethics values systems that the 21st century global human society needs as a necessary condition for its stability and for peace.

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