There are several explanations for why it is difficult to change organizations’ decision-making processes on environmental issues. Traditions and old habits, or an inertia to acquire knowledge can be obstacles to change. That is why we, together with sports and health organizations, want to develop a decision-making culture where sustainability is a natural part.

Gamla bildbanksbilder

Like all other organizations, outdoor life and sports organizations, have throughout history used different types of knowledge and made decisions which influence how they work. In order to understand how organizations can work in the future, it is, however, important to understand how they have worked with knowledge acquisition in the past – and how this acquisition have affected the decisions made.

Some knowledge is likely easier to use than other, such as how scientific research has influenced training for a specific sport or the planning of a certain walking path. There is reason to believe that some knowledge is easier to absorb than others - for example, knowledge that leads to athletes running faster, jumping higher, etc. - while knowledge that requires more complex measures is harder to embrace. For example, it has proved difficult to change travel patterns in elite sports, despite good knowledge of the environmental impact of travel. Furthermore, there are organizations that make decisions formed by what they have been doing in previous situations, rather than by knowledge. There is an element of path dependence in the decision-making of many organizations.


Success factors for increased sustainability

In order to be able to change future decision-making processes about the environment, we need to understand what they looked like in the past. Organizations may need new knowledge about how their work affects the environment before decisions are made. An example is decisions about where major championships should take place and how they can affect the environment. As researchers we want to work together with the organizations to try to make an impact on certain decisions.

Knowledge and motivation are success factors in creating sustainability. How can we work together to develop a culture where the knowledge of sustainability is a natural part of the goals of sports and outdoor life and in the practical work? We also want to work with schools and universities in physical education and teacher education to find out how they use knowledge and research in their daily practice and how they embrace environmental issues. 


Sverker Sörlin, KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Theme leader

Professor of Environmental History

Areas of research: Environmental history; Historical science and politics of climate change

Susanna Hedenborg, Malmö University

Vice theme leader


Andreas Karlsson Isgren, Dalarna University

PhD Student

Daniel Svensson, Malmö University

Associate senior lecturer

Areas of research: Sport management, Sport history, Sport science, Environmental history


Erik Backman, Dalarna University

Associate professor

Areas of research: Physical education and health, Teacher education, Assessment

Marie Larneby, Malmö University

PhD Sport science

Areas of research: Sport science, Children and youth sports in school and during leisure time, Norms, and social categories.


Liubov Timonina, KTH Royal Institute of Technology

PhD Student in History of Science, Technology and Environment

Johan Carlsson, Malmö universitet

PhD Sport science