Section: Overview
Key publications
Research funding
Supervising & teaching

Key details

Areas of expertise

  • Benefits of participation in leisure on well being
  • Community building and development
  • Social capital in sport and recreation

Available to supervise research students

Available for media queries

About Tom Forsell

Tom’s research focus is on the topic of social capital, and how it relates to inclusion and social connections. Over the past years he focused on measuring social capital in social networks (clubs). This provided a better understanding of the social, and wellbeing benefits of social connections examined in a recreation and sport context. His research specifically, centres on his social capital scale he developed and validated, through the measurement of people in leisure clubs.

His research aims at developing a pedagogical model for good social networks, incorporating social capital components such as trust, reciprocity and others. The intent is to use leisure networks as a vehicle for developing good quality social networks incorporating these social capital components. Further research will measure social capital in leisure networks compared to those in the general community. Social capital measurement of networks will provide direction for model social networks which theoretically would grow and be of significant interest to government institutions.

Tom’s teaching is in the area of recreation and sport inclusion, community development and program theory and development.

Tom completed a PhD at Victoria University in 2014. His research explored social capital in grassroots leisure recreation and sport clubs in Victoria in a qualitative study. He developed social capital scale items, applied a rigorous reduction, trial and validation process which eventuated in his Club Social Capital Scale (CSCS).

Tom joined VU as a lecturer in 2009, and teaches in a range of units in Sport and Exercise Science. Prior to joining VU, he completed his Master of Science-Leisure Studies Management at Texas Tech and conducted research in coach attitude and its effect on sport and recreation participation in youth. He has worked in local government, as an events manager at RMIT, and at Sport and Recreation Victoria in a number of areas.

Tom is an early researcher and published a review of Non Profit Disability Service and articles in Leisure Sciences. His CSCS is receiving significant interest in universities overseas and is currently being translated. He has attended and delivered a number of papers and presentations at leisure studies conferences in Europe, Africa and in the Pacific.

Tom has supervised honours students and is interested in co-supervising postgraduate students who have a passion for sport and recreation management, social capital and community inclusion.


  • PhD, Victoria University, 2014
  • Master Leisure Services Development, Texas Tech University
  • PGDip Leisure Studies Management, RMIT
  • BSc Geography and Conservation, Eastern Michigan University

Key publications

Year Citation
2015 Forsell, T., Spaaij, R., Magee, J., & O'Donaghue, K. (150801). Access for All Abilities Play: Evaluation Report. Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University.

Year Citation
2020 Forsell, T., Tower, J., & Polman, R. (200102). Development of a Scale to Measure Social Capital in Recreation and Sport Clubs. Leisure Sciences, 42(1), (106-122).

doi: 10.1080/01490400.2018.1442268

Research funding for the past 5 years

Please note:

  • Funding is ordered by the year the project commenced and may continue over several years.
  • Funding amounts for contact research are not disclosed to maintain commercial confidentiality.
  • The order of investigators is not indicative of the role they played in the research project.

Evaluation of Access for All Abilities (AAA) Play Program
From: Reclink Australia
Other investigators: Prof Ramon Spaaij
For period: 2014-2015

Supervision of research students at VU

Available to supervise research students

Available for media queries

Other supervision of research students

Tom supervised an honours student Peter Bovino, who completed his research and thesis in 2018 at VU. Tom has also read and evaluated two honours theses in 2018.

Teaching activities & experience

Tom has taught at VU for 10 years and currently teaches and is the unit coordinator for:

These subjects are both part of the community focus of the Bachelor of Sport Management.

Tom provides significant applied learning in both of the units and draws on over 34 years of experience in working in both state and local government positions and events management.

Key academic roles

Dates Role Department / Organisation
Jan 2010 - Present
Lecturer A - Recreation Management
Victoria University
Dates Role & Department/Organisation
Jan 2010 -
Lecturer A - Recreation Management
Victoria University

Professional memberships

  • Member, Australia and New Zealand Leisure studies Association
  • Member, Australian Performing Rights Association