The Playful Academic - Special Issue Call for Papers

The Playful Academic - Special Issue Call for Papers

Posted by Andrew Walsh on 2019-10-07

The Playful Academic

Playful attitudes, approaches and activities in learning, teaching and research


Call For Papers for special issue of Journal of Play in Adulthood

Guest Editors

Rikke Toft Nørgård, Aarhus University

Alex Moseley, Leicester University

Josephine Eghave Midttun Solheim, Aarhus University

In academia and higher education, there has been little research considering playful attitudes, approaches and activities in relation to academic development, research practice, teaching and learning or other institutional practices. This special issue seeks to create an international and transdisciplinary dialogue around what it could signify and entail to be a playful academic as it is conceptualised and practiced through different attitudes, approaches and activities as well as the connections between them. The overall aim is to explore the transformative academic potentials and possibilities of playful academia in the broadest and deepest sense of this term.

The special issue seeks to explore and qualify both scholarly and practice-related understandings of what ‘the playful academic’ is and could be - as well as to discuss the complex relations between this and learning, teaching and research in relation to the present and future higher education landscape. Importantly, the call invites for contributions that are themselves playful academic acts and show the courage and curiosity to draw up alternative academic ways of for thinkers and practitioners to participate in a dialogue on this. Taken together, the purpose of the special issue is to connect thinking around and practice of the playful academic more closely to dimensions of learning, teaching and research and for higher education futures. 

All in all, the special issue seeks to establish playfulness, playful practice and playful thinking as important perspectives within academia and higher education institutions. Here, the special issue provides a space for sharing knowledge on playful learning, teaching and research as well as putting forward to be more playful academics in the way we create and share knowledge on such topics. The goal is to both showcase and stimulate playful academic thinking and practice and contribute to theoretical and methodological development while also providing important studies, insights and results within the area that can inform and inspire future thinking and practice broadly. 

The call invites for contributions on both the macro, meso and micro level as well as within the three different themes of (1) academic learning, (2) academic teaching, and (3) academic research (listed in more detail below).

Theme 1: Playful learning in higher education: Students as playful academics

Students are today required to be better at being creative, innovative, entrepreneurial, taking risks and being producers not just consumers of research. Descriptions and visions of future students and their study practices often find their way into policy strategies, institutional initiatives, and teaching tactics. Conversely, we also see students taking up and responding to such strategies, initiatives and tactics in their own way and sometimes below the radar of the system. How do we develop and promote playful learning that support or invite for e.g. more risky, creative, explorative, curious, innovative, experimental student practices? How may we understand playful learning both at the theoretical level as a way for higher education to scaffold meaningful and valuable student experiences, and at the methodological level as strategies or practices to promote playful attitudes and approaches in students? The theme of playful learning in higher education looks at the playful academic both from the students’ perspective and as an approach and attitude towards students to reflect on the possibilities, challenges, potentials, problems and impact of such approaches might pose for the future of higher education.

Theme 2: Playful teaching in higher education: Teachers as playful academics

Students as playful academics rarely gets realised through learning and teaching separately. Often learning processes and teaching activities become entangled when playful academia is supported or invited for in higher education institutions. Teaching activities, learning designs, teacher attitudes and approaches as well as pedagogical frameworks and methodologies are decisive when aiming for more playful students. Just as important is the call for teachers as playful academics in and off themselves - teachers that play in their teaching, play with their teaching or play through their teaching as a way to facilitate playful academia both in students and as teachers. How do we conceptualise and identify such entangled connections between teaching and learning in ways that promote, scaffold and warrant more integrated playful academic practices in higher education? How may we understand teaching as a playful academic practice and as practiced by playful academics? How might we describe and conceptualise teaching and learning as a co-operative playful academic community? And how do we move teaching forward when considering the teacher as a playful academic?

Theme 3: Playful research in higher education institutions: Scholars as playful academics 

When we theorise and conceptualise playfulness within higher education institutions, we sometimes forget the research dimension - the academic practice of e.g. articles, books, studies, projects, conferences, seminars, workshops etc that often lie at the heart of research institutions. Often we split education and research. And while institutions or academics might be proficient in nurturing and facilitating playful teaching and learning, they might still expect and deliver very traditional academic research. How do we create spaces for playful research and nurture the playful researcher? How do we support and nurture research practices for the playful academic as well as provide playful research opportunities for academics in general? What are institutional and individual practices of scholars as playful academics that will inform and carry forward playful research? What are some of the more alternative formats and practices that playful academics might engage in, as and through research? And how might we conceptualise and understand the nature of research itself as well as its practices, methods and formats as potentially playful?

Instructions for authors Abstract 

We invite you to submit an abstract with a suggested title and a max 250 word outline of the central argument. Based on the incoming abstracts, the guest editors extend invitations to develop and submit full papers for the special issue. Abstracts should be mailed to Rikke Toft Nørgård ( 

Article length 

5000-8000 words for academic articles (including references) The full articles should adhere to the submission guidelines and processes outlined here: 

Copyright information

The Journal of Play in Adulthood makes content available on an open access basis, with the default of a CC-BY 4.0 licence. Authors retain their own copyright of submitted material, simply licencing the journal to publish. No fees are charged to read, or to publish in, the journal.


Important dates 

December 10th, 2019: Deadline for submitting abstract

January 10th, 2020: Notification of acceptance/rejection

July 1st, 2020: Deadline for submitting full paper

September 1st 2020: Review of papers

November 1st 2020: Submission of final versions

January 2021: Target publication date


Call for papers   Higher Education   Special Issue