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Eight PhD Positions on Improving Children's Play

The Institute of Occupational Therapy at ZHAW is participating in the first Trans-European Occupational Science doctoral training programme to research and improve children's play. Early-stage researchers will be encouraged to apply in March 2020 for the eight fully-funded doctoral programmes at the four partner universities in Ireland, Scotland, Sweden and Switzerland.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, all children have the right to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to their age. Playing is one of the core activities of children and contributes significantly to their development and social inclusion. There is, however, a lack of suitable places for children to play, especially outdoors, and in European countries as well. Moreover, many children are denied access to playing with others because of poverty, physical or mental impairments.

Creative and innovative solutions

A group of male and female researchers from European universities such as the University College Cork (Ireland), Lulea University of Technology (Sweden), Queen Margaret University (Scotland) and ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences (Switzerland) therefore want to address the problem with a joint doctoral training programme entitled P4PLAY which stands for the four programme areas of “People”, “Place”, “Policy” and “Practice” and intends to examine and explore the knowledge about children's play as well as the consequences of play deprivation in order to develop innovative and creative solutions for all children to enable them to enjoy their right to play. The said researchers have subsequently developed eight doctoral programmes on different aspects within the four programme areas – such as play characteristics of children affected by poverty, play of children with an immigration background in school environments or making use of playgrounds for play from the point of view of children with disabilities. As part of the eight individual doctoral programmes, each of the PhD students will spend one year at two of the four partner universities and three months at a partner institution, such as Pro Juventute, a Swiss charitable foundation that is dedicated to supporting and promoting the rights and needs of children and adolescents with their parents through targeted projects.

Honoured for high quality

The sophisticated doctoral programme jointly developed by the international group of male and female researchers has convinced the EU's Research Executive Agency (REA) which approved the financing of P4PLAY as part of the Horizon 2020 research programme. “We were very happy about the good evaluation of our application. Receiving 97 out of 100 points on the first submission attempt is extremely rare”, says Christina Schulze, PhD, of ZHAW. She is looking forward to advertising and the responses to the PhD position in March 2020, which she will then supervise at ZHAW. However, Christina Schulze adds: “Swiss candidates though are not eligible to apply for this particular PhD position in Switzerland, but they can apply for the other seven doctoral training programmes at our partner universities.” The PhD programme will start in autumn 2020.

Christina Schulze, PhD, helped develop the P4PLAY research programme and is one of nine supervisors involved in the programme funded by the Horizon 2020 “Marie Sklodowska Curie Action Project”. In addition, she had already worked between 2014 and 2019 with some of the European project partners on the EU COST-Action Ludi entitled “Play for Children with Disabilities”. In Switzerland, Christina Schulze is currently in charge of the “Playground: Meeting Place for All?” and “Social Integration: Playing in Public Space” research studies. In addition to her research activities, she is also a member of the teaching staff in the Master and the Bachelor degree programme in Occupational Therapy at ZHAW.
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