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PLAYTrack Conference 2020

Learning, Breaking, Making: analysing processes of play

Within play research, two oppositely directed narratives seamlessly co-exist. On the one hand, play is described as a learning activity that helps children and adults reduce the uncertainties they encounter in the world so that they, over time, may navigate it with more ease. On the other hand, play is also considered to be a creative activity that facilitates novel behavioural patterns and innovative breakthroughs by changing and manipulating the environment and by breaking down traditional rules of conduct. Satisfactory models of play have to account for both of these aspects. They have to explain why it is that play is as much about learning rules as it is about breaking and making them.

May 11-13th 2020, the Interacting Minds Centre (IMC) at Aarhus University, Denmark, is organising the second international PLAYTrack Conference on the theme “Learning, breaking, making: analysing processes of play.” The conference invites scholars to explore and analyse the dual nature of playful processes on individual and societal levels and discuss the implications this may have for research, education and innovation.    


Marc Malmdorf Andersen 

Confirmed Speakers

Vasu Reddy

University of Portsmouth, UK

Vasu Reddy is interested in the origins and development of social cognition, mainly in young infants. For twenty years now she has been exploring the role of emotional engagement in social understanding, focusing on the everyday, ordinary engagements (such as teasing and joking and showing-off or feeling shy) which often tend to get ignored in mainstream theories. Vasu is the Director of the Centre for Situated Action and Communication which explores ideas of context and situation on different kinds of psychological phenomena. 

Laura Schulz

Early Childhood Cognition Lab at MIT, US

The infrastructure of human cognition — our commonsense understanding of the physical and social world — is constructed during early childhood.  Laura Schulz studies the representations and learning mechanisms that underlie this feat.  Her research looks at 1) how children infer the concepts and causal relations that enable them to engage in accurate prediction, explanation, and intervention; 2) the factors that support curiosity and exploration, allowing children to engage in effective discovery and 3) how the social-communicative context (e.g., demonstrating evidence, explaining events, disagreeing about hypotheses) affects children’s learning.

Susan D. Blum

University of Notre Dame, US

Susan D Blum is an anthropologist seeking to understand the patterns in the world we see around us, whether in China, the United States, or anywhere else. Her interests have ranged from the study of ethnicity, nationalism, identity, and the self in China, to truth and deception across cultures, to cheating and plagiarism in US colleges, to food, sustainability, and culture, to the nature of education and childhood. Her current obsession is the divorce between learning and schooling. Susan's book "I Love Learning; I Hate School": An Anthropology of College has been published by Cornell University Press in early 2016.  

Doris Pui Wah Cheng

Tung Wah College,  Hong Kong

Doris Cheng Pui Wah is the Professor of Early childhood Education of the Tung Wah College. She was the ex-centre director of childhood research and innovation at the Education University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong Institute of Education). Her research and publications focuses on early childhood curriculum and pedagogy including teaching and learning through play, the impact of play on children and the role and professional development of early childhood teachers.  

Lior Noy

Arison School of Business, IDC & Theatre Lab, Weizmann Institute, Israel 

Lior Noy is a creativity researcher and trainer. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the Weizmann Institute of Science, with background in psychology, computer science and theatre. He is a performer and teacher in Playback Theatre, an improvisation form based on real-life stories. His research focuses on finding the basic principles of creative exploration, and he is currently a lecturer at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya, where he teaches courses on creativity and digital innovation.  

Cas Holman

Rhode Island School of Design & Heroes Will Rise, US

Cas Holman has spent the last ten years immersed in play, education, and imagination. Through her company Heroes Will Rise, she designs and manufactures tools for the imagination. These materials are manipulable parts and pieces which inspire constructive play, imaginative forms, and cooperative interactions between people. 

Ben Fincham

University of Sussex, UK  

Ben Fincham has been involved with developing projects on 'mobilities', qualitative approaches to studying work in unstable employment environments and the relationship between work and mental health. He has worked and on gendered aspects of suicide and death as well as gender and research methods. In 2016 he published a book for Palgrave Macmillan entitled 'The Sociology of Fun'. He is currently developing projects on gendered fun, fun in childhood and also boredom.  

Zuzanna Rucinska

University of Antwerp, Belgium

Zuzanna Rucinska is a postdoctoral researcher, working in Philosophy of Mind, Psychology, and Philosophy of Cognitive Science. Her research interests include pretend and imaginative play, forms of creativity, embodied and enactive cognition, dynamical systems theory and mechanical explanations of cognition, sensorimotor theory and theory of affordances. Her current postdoctoral position looks at development of role play and imaginary play, and aims to explore the enactivist account of complex pretending.  

Mark Miller

University of Sussex, UK

Mark Miller is a philosopher of cognition. Over the past five years he has been exploring the Predictive Processing framework, and working to develop a view of the predictive mind as deeply embodied, emotional and extended. Mark is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Sussex, where he works with Andy Clark on the ERC project Expecting Ourselves: Embodied Prediction and the Construction of Conscious Experience (www.x-spect.org).  

Sebastian Deterding

Digital Creativity Labs at the University of York, UK

Sebastian Deterding is a translational designer and researcher working on wellbeing-driven experience design: creating motivating, gameful, and playful experiences that support human flourishing. He is broadly interested in how code shapes conduct: how software and games pervade everyday life, and what ramifications this holds for individuals, communities, ethics, and design. He is a reader at the Digital Creativity Labs at the University of York and founder and principal of the design agency coding conduct.