Speakers

Overview of Plenary Sessions

A plenary session is scheduled for each of the first 3 days of the conference.  Each day will tackle a priority issue or topic that will be relevant across all play sectors.

To help extend the discussion beyond the plenary session, each afternoon of the conference will feature a post-plenary ‘talking circle’. In addition to the plenary speakers from that day, this session will also feature supplementary speakers who will share additional perspectives and information relevant to the priority topic.  Interested delegates can attend these sessions to further engage with the speakers, and to contribute to the discussion of issues and action steps.

Wed., Sept 13:  Unleashing the Power of Play… in the 21st Century

Today’s speakers will help to situate play in contemporary society.  What is play in the 21st century context?  Are play cultures and landscapes changing?  What are the new opportunities and challenges for supporting children’s right to play?

Two leading voices in the world of children’s play will tackle these questions:

Dr. Peter Gray

Peter Gray is a research professor of psychology at Boston College who has conducted and published research in neuroendocrinology, developmental psychology, anthropology, and education.  He is author of an internationally acclaimed introductory psychology textbook (Psychology, Worth Publishers, now in its 7th edition), which views all of psychology from an evolutionary perspective.  His recent research focuses on the role of play in human evolution and how children educate themselves, through play and exploration, when they are free to do so. He has expanded on these ideas in his book, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (Basic Books). He also authors a regular blog called Freedom to Learn, for Psychology Today magazine.  Before joining the faculty at Boston College, he earned his undergraduate degree at Columbia College and Ph.D. in biological sciences at the Rockefeller University, and taught at Hunter College and City College in New York. See also my Psychology Today blog and follow me on Facebook

Dr. Roger Hart

Roger Hart is a professor of psychology and geography at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has a broad concern with fulfilling children’s rights through finding ways to better understand their lives and their perspectives. This has led to both ecological studies of children in their environments and to the development of ways for enabling children to participate in decision-making related to their rights. While much of his work has focused specifically on the quality of the physical environment for children, more recently he has also become engaged in issues of child protection. He has largely been concerned with improving conditions for children living in low-income communities and in difficult circumstances. In 1978 he published a natural history of children’s lives in a New England town and he is now completing a comprehensive study and film of how children’s play has since changed in that town.
 

Thursday, Sept 14:  Unleashing the Power of Play… for coping, healing and renewal

Thursday’s session will focus on the potential and power of play for children living in situations of conflict, crisis or challenge.  In situations of conflict or disaster and for children living with everyday hazards and poverty, play is crucial to their well-being, development, health and survival. Children display extraordinary resilience in creating space and opportunities to play even in the most extreme circumstances and many communities and organisations strive to continue to support play in situations of crisis. However, more needs to be done to ensure we fulfil our obligations to children in ensuring their right to play is realised.

This plenary will feature an international group of speakers addressing the play needs of children in crisis situations, and will share examples of initiatives from around the world helping to meet these needs, including the findings from IPA’s recent Access to Play in Crisis research.

The session will be chaired by IPA President Theresa Casey and will feature an international lineup including:
Dr. Sudeshna Chatterjee (India) – IPA Play in Crisis Consulting Project Officer
Maria Assi (Lebanon) – CEO of Beyond Association
Other international speakers to be confirmed

 

 

 

Friday, Sept. 15: Unleashing the Power of Play … to spark change

Our final plenary session will help to chart a path towards systemic changes which will support children’s right to play through research, practice, policy and advocacy.  Discussion will include how we can engage children, families and neighbourhoods in the work to restore and protect children’s play and play environments.

Speaker 1 to be confirmed

Dr. Peter Gray

Peter Gray is a research professor of psychology at Boston College who has conducted and published research in neuroendocrinology, developmental psychology, anthropology, and education.  He is author of an internationally acclaimed introductory psychology textbook (Psychology, Worth Publishers, now in its 7th edition), which views all of psychology from an evolutionary perspective.  His recent research focuses on the role of play in human evolution and how children educate themselves, through play and exploration, when they are free to do so. He has expanded on these ideas in his book, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (Basic Books). He also authors a regular blog called Freedom to Learn, for Psychology Today magazine.  Before joining the faculty at Boston College, he earned his undergraduate degree at Columbia College and Ph.D. in biological sciences at the Rockefeller University, and taught at Hunter College and City College in New York. See also my Psychology Today blog and follow me on Facebook

After helping us to understand the contemporary nature and status of play, Dr. Gray will return to help us reflect on key ideas presented at the conference and to share strategies working to restore and embed free play in children’s lives and environments.