January Member Showcase – Dr. Rob Millington


I’ve been involved with the Centre for Sport Capacity (CSC) for about a year now. I was eager to join the CSC because of the tremendous activities they’ve been engaged with, and because of the collaborative nature of the Centre. The people I get to work with are amazing and the webinars that they have hosted are such great resources for everyone.
I am in my third year at Brock University as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology. My focus is on the socio-cultural stream of Kinesiology, so I am interested in the role of sport as an agent of social change. In my research, I do a lot of historical and policy analysis of how sport contributes to international development goals. In recent years, we have seen an increasing formalization and institutionalization of the role of sport within the international development sector, whereby organizations like the United Nations (UN) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) have sought to use sport as a tool to promote a range of positive social outcomes, including HIV-AIDS education, gender equity, and employment skills, amongst others. In my most recent project, I have been interested in how sport can contribute to sustainable development, with a specific focus on the environmental side of sustainability. For example, sport is now connected to all 17 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which includes things like environmental protection, remediation, clean waterways, food security, and combatting climate change. However, the goals in these policy documents are quite ambitious and the sport sector doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to the environment. Sport has a profound environmental impact for its carbon footprint, food waste and impact on local ecosystems. I’m interested in exploring these types of disconnects further.


I currently teach KINE 2P91: Social History of Physical Education and Sport, KINE 4P61: Sport, Development and Sustainability, and a Graduate qualitative methods course.
Kinesiology students are fortunate that they can take a range of courses including, Anatomy, Physiology, Psychology, Sociology, History, and Phys-ed courses. I think this variety in their coursework leads to well-rounded students. The second-year course I teach is an interesting way for students to get exposure to social history. The course helps in developing a critical toolkit to explore how sport both reproduces and challenges broader power dynamics, and ongoing histories of colonialism, race and racism, gender (in)equity, social class and commercialism.
The fourth-year KINE 4P61 class that I teach has emerged out of the research interests I noted above. The course provides an opportunity to explore how sport is positioned as a tool to combat climate change, yet how it also needs to be accountable for its own deleterious environmental impacts – all while engaging students in the topic of sport and environmental action.

Current Research

My current research program is funded through an SSHRC Insight Grant in collaboration with my colleague, Dr. Simon Darnell (University of Toronto). Its goal is to try to explore how stakeholders in the “sport for development” sector view the role of sport in contributing to sustainable development objectives through interviews with policy-makers and practitioners that run sport for development programs, particularly in the global South. Through the project we hope to better understand sport’s potential and limitations in promoting environmental protection and remediation strategies.
I am also now in the process of submitting a new SSHRC grant with Dr. Brad Millington (Department of Sport Management, here are Brock University) and Dr. Simon Darnell (University of Toronto), focused on sport and environmental action in Canada. We are interested in exploring if and how sport organizations in Canada (e.g., Hockey Canada, Aboriginal Sport Circle, Right to Play), are taking up the call from the UN to use sport as a positive force for the environment.

Ice Breakers

Favourite TV Show – This is a tough question, there’s so much good stuff out there these days, but I’d have to say Succession is up there for me.
Hobbies – Sports is a big one. I’ve been enjoying watching this Raptors team and think they can make some noise in the playoffs, if they get in. I’m also trying to stay active (or at least saying that I am) by exploring the many nearby trails to run and hike.
Favourite sport – Basketball is my favourite sport, it’s the sport I grew up playing the most. Although it is being rivaled these days by baseball: the Blue Jays are on a fun trajectory and I’m excited to see the team develop over the next few years.
Clubs associations – I am helping out with a few different organizations focused on the connection between sport and the environment: the Canada Games Council, the Canadian signatories of the Sport for Climate Action Framework, Parks and Recreation Canada, have all been active in this area. I think there is momentum behind the idea that sport can be a positive force for environmental sustainability, so it’s an exciting time.
Achievements – I’ve been helping to put together a new Seminar Series at the CSC titled: Sport and the Environment Webinars. The series is being led by Dr. Brad Millington and it speaks to the different sides of some of the issues we’ve talked about today. Our guest speakers include journalists, academics, policymakers, and more, who will be sharing their insights on how sport can drive sustainability initiatives forward. The first one is February 3rd and I encourage everyone to check it out.

Categories: Blog, Member Showcases