The university as an infinite game Event as iCalendar

(School of Social Sciences)

01 September 2016

4 - 5pm

Venue: Room 107, Fale Pasifika Complex (273-107)

Contact info: Martin von Randow

Contact email:

Website: COMPASS

Niki Harré, University of Auckland

According to the philosopher James Carse (1986), life is comprised of at least two kinds of games. One is finite games, in which the object is to win, and the other is the infinite game in which the object is to invite others in and keep the game in play. The premise of this talk is that, at its best, the university is the infinite game par excellence. It is a site in which all players’ insights are welcomed, new knowledge is co-created, and we are deeply and creatively engaged with the ongoing social debate about how to live well together. However, all too often, we as academics find ourselves entranced by the finite games on offer (such as the PBRF game, the grants game, the attracting “top” students game) and lose sight of the possibilities for infinite play. While some of this could be attributed to the “neoliberal university”, we are also complicit in the maintenance of these games by pursuing and proffering the rewards they promise.

This talk will suggest ways to revive the infinite ethos at universities, including self-reflection, subversive networks and a willingness to give up on winning the finite games that lead us astray. Data from a research project with 1,085 New Zealand participants in infinite game workshops will also be discussed.

Niki Harré is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland. Her recent research projects have focused on sustainable communities and schools, positive youth development and political activism. In 2007 Niki edited, with Quentin Atkinson, the book Carbon Neutral by 2020: How New Zealanders Can Tackle Climate Change. In 2011 she released a second book, Psychology for a Better World: Strategies to Inspire SustainabilityHer current work looks at the Infinite Game as a metaphor for living well together.


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