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Dr. Goldstein with collaboration by other departments have been funded by the Virginia Humanities for the research "Loose Parts: Exploring the Public Humanities of Child-Directed Adventure Play Process".

April 7, 2023

Dr. Goldstein of the Sociology department in collaboration led by Corin Hewitt (Sculpture), Aspen Brinton (World Studies), Kristin Carelton (Interior Design) Keenan Rowe (Craft and Material Studies) have been fund by the Virginia Humanities for the research "Loose Parts: Exploring the Public Humanities of Child-Directed Adventure Play Process".

A brief description of the grant: In 1971, architect Simon Nicholson advocated for a new relationship to play, where salvaged materials defined a spirit of open exploration. Nicholson built on a tradition of “junk” or “adventure” play from post-World War II Europe, inspired by children finding self-determination through playing with materials in bombed-out urban areas. When children play with loose parts of the world, they learn to calculate risks, solve problems, and develop new relationships with the world. As the Dutch philosopher of play Johan Huizinga writes, “culture arises and unfolds in and as play.” Adventure playgrounds spread throughout Europe and to Japan after the war, but in the US, experiments with adventure play have been limited by a litigious and risk-averse culture. In the 1980’s, restrictive safety requirements swept the country, dramatically increasing the homogeneity of adult-made fixed equipment playgrounds. Since then, children’s impulses toward playful movements have been increasingly confined indoors, constrained by adult rules, and subject to technological algorithms behind screens. Children are often denied the opportunity to construct their own play-worlds in symbiosis with the natural world. Currently there are only eight adventure play spaces in the US (and none in Virginia). This project proposes to bring Virginians into the international adventure play movement through a series of well-documented community conversations, screenings, and pop-up adventure play experiences, as we build toward the creation of a permanent, artist-activated adventure playspace in Richmond, VA. In our playspaces, children will respond to, ignore, deface, build on, or destroy a set of rotating "provocations" created specifically for each play-action by commissioned artists. Each of our events will provide a space for parents, teachers and the broader community to engage with project team members as well as visiting adventure play experts in facilitated dialog about childhood, creativity and play.

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