Faculty Colloquia

Monday 21st September, 12:30 - 2PM - The Dr. Roger Epp Conference Room

Jane Yardley: Making time to play: the importance of daily physical activity throughout the life cycle

Physical activity, whether structured or not, is an important part of a healthy development in children and adolescents. It’s also an integral part of healthy aging. This presentation will explore the benefits of different types of activities throughout the life cycle. It will also discuss the consequences of inactivity throughout this time frame.

Paul “Sparky” Johnson: Direct Experience: Finding Presence Through Play

Viola Spolin described a “direct experience” as a space where the individual is awake and alive to what is going on; their whole self, attentive; a space for intuition to emerge and assist in the ongoing event. For Spolin, this state occurs naturally in the playing of an active group game, as players become present to the unfolding of an unknown outcome. This is also where true community exists. When we play as a group we are connected to each other as in no other way.


Monday 23rd November, 12:30 - 2PM - The Dr. Roger Epp Conference Room

Glen Hvenegaard: More than Play Time in the Parks: Human Health and Well-being Benefits of Alberta’s Protected Areas

Authors: Glen Hvenegaard, Chris Lemieux, Joyce Gould, Sean Doherty, Paul Eagles, Mark Groulx, and Lisa Nisbet

Protected areas provide a wide range of ecological, economic, and social benefits. Among the social benefits, planners and managers focus most often on the recreational, or “play time”, aspects of visitor use of parks. However, among these social benefits, we believe that parks and protected areas provide unique resources to promote healthy behaviours and lifestyles, especially in a leisure context. The purpose of this study is to examine the perceived human health and well-being motivations and benefits associated with visitation to, and participation in experiences provided by, Alberta’s parks and protected areas.

In 2012 and 2013, we interviewed 1,515 visitors in six provincial parks, representing four regions throughout Alberta. The majority of respondents identified significant psychological and emotional, social, physical and environmental well-being motivations and benefits associated with their experience. There were important differences among the regions with respect to demographic characteristics, recreational characteristics, and well-being motivations and perceived benefits. The results of this work demonstrate the value of Alberta's parks and protected areas in enhancing human health and well-being. The findings have important policy and management implications for both park managers and health care professionals.                                   

Melaina Weiss: The Body as a Vehicle for Transformation in Philosophy

In this presentation I argue in favor of the potential for self-creation and transformation through philosophy and other disciplines in the humanities. The humanities boast of the freeing potential of critical thinking; we all have had those eureka, or aha moments in our lives, which we attribute to our rationality. However, such a focus on the activity of thought and rational capabilities is closely tied to the neglect of and contempt for the body, endemic throughout the western philosophical tradition. Neglecting the significance of the body limits our potential for self-creation and transformation, as it is a neglect of our fundamental form of experience; the practical benefits of exercise, play and body conditioning are necessary in the development of our selves. Furthermore, the development of our physical selves goes beyond mere practicality. I will present a brief history of the neglect of and contempt for the body in western philosophy. Drawing on feminist and practical concepts, and the bodily practices of yoga and sport, I argue for a way of doing philosophy that involves our bodies in the process. Through a unification of activity of thought and activity of the body, personal self-creation can be within our reach in philosophy and the humanities.


Monday 25th January, 12:30 - 2PM - The Dr. Roger Epp Conference Room

Paula Marentette: Pretending to Learn: The Role of Play in Children’s Development

Young children are essentially useless at most tasks (according to Steven Pinker, a cognitive psychologist) and spend most of their time “playing”. MIddle-class children in North America are growing up in increasingly supervised and structured settings whose goal is to ensure the development of specific skills. Unstructured play requires autonomy and curiosity. It often arises from a certain degree of boredom. In this talk I will argue that unstructured play is critical for effective cognitive and social development.

Janet Wesselius: From Play-Dough to Plato

Traditionally, play has not enjoyed high status in Western thought. Arguably, play has been denigrated because it is associated with children and other animals. Moreover, insofar as play is associated with humour, it is seen as inimical to rationality; Plato, for example, associated play with humourous emotion that overpowered rational self-control.  On the other hand, Aristotle valued play as part of a well-lived life and analysed humour as a kind of intellectual play that was particularly important.

In this presentation, I would like to examine play in terms of humour and children’s humour in particular. This kind of intellectual play can be as beneficial as physical play. Of course, as Aquinas (following Aristotle) pointed out, people engage in play, not for it social, emotional, physical, and other benefits, but for pleasure. As the psychologist Alison Gopnick points out in play, children are “exercising some of the most sophisticated and philosophically profound capacities of human nature.” (The Philosophical Baby 2009: 73)        

As well, I would like to be able to include in this presentation, a reflection on Philosophy for Children Camp that will be run at Augustana this summer. It is this Aristotlean view that animates the Philosophy for Children movement. It is generally agreed that this movement begin in the early 1970's with Matthew Lipman’s publication of his philosophical novel for children Harry Stottlemeier’s Discovery. Since then Philosophy for Children programs have spread throughout North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. There is a Philosophy for Children Affiliate at the University of Alberta in Edmonton that runs a summer camp; and, as I said, a Philosophy for Children camp will be run at Augustana this summer.


Monday 29th February, 12:30 - 2PM - The Augustana Chapel

Ardelle Ries with special guests Bonita Anderson, Charlene Brown, and Michelle Kennedy-Hawkins: 'Four Brown Caribou' and Other Play Parties

Traditional chants, rhymes, and singing games are the heart, spirit, and soul of music curriculum for children, especially curriculum modeled on the educational philosophies of renowned Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist, linguist, philosopher, and music educator, Zoltán Kodály. In anticipation of the international symposium for Kodály music educators hosted at Augustana in 2017, this collaborative Leap Day presentation will examine children’s chants, rhymes, and singing games in historical, pedagogical, and sociocultural contexts.

Glynnis Hood and Doris Audet: To play or not to play? Animals ask the question

Do humans have a monopoly on playing as a behaviour? Some scientists call such "purposeless" behaviour in animals "play"; however, others insist that play behaviour has a purpose regardless of its lack of evolutionary or adaptive function. From "play-fighting" in dogs to elaborate behaviours in birds, we will debate the idea of "play" in animals and explore its link to more subtle aspects of biology.