UCLIC Research Seminar Series

UCLIC Research Seminar 2nd of December: Neha Kumar (Georgia Tech). Making Play Work 4D
Neha Kumar, Georgia Tech
Location: On Zoom


UCLIC Research Seminar 2nd of December: Neha Kumar (Georgia Tech). Making Play Work 4D



The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, like other mechanisms for conceptualizing societal wellbeing, center problems of immediate and pervasive importance: gender equality, world hunger, global health, quality education, and more. These are challenges of global relevance to be examined, engaged, alleviated, and we have little time at hand to do so. What most frameworks for global and social change frequently sideline is the role that leisure, or play, might have in supporting these tremendous pursuits towards making the world a better place for all.

Implicit in these tensions is the assumption that play is not high enough a priority, not low enough in Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and therefore not anywhere in the plans that researchers and practitioners of global, sustainable development tend to foreground. What then is play good for? How might it open us up to imagining new and different futures?

In this talk, I will begin with my initial encounters with play and leisure, the path my early explorations took me on as I grappled with these questions that it raised, introducing the audience to the work of others that offered inspiration along the way. I will draw connections with research efforts in the HCI community, and conclude by raising questions for the audience to engage with around making play work 4D, or for development.


Neha Kumar is an Assistant Professor at Georgia Tech, with a joint appointment at the School of Interactive Computing and the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. Her work lies at the intersection of human-centered computing and global development, and her research engages feminist perspectives and assets-based approaches towards designing for/with communities on the margins. Neha got her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley's School of Information. She also has two Master's degrees from Stanford University, in Computer Science and Learning, Design, and Technology. As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, she majored in Computer Science and Applied Math. Neha has been at Georgia Tech since 2015, where she leads the TanDEm lab (short for technology and design towards "empowerment"). When she's not busy with research, she volunteers for the ACM as Chair of the Future of Computing Academy and SIGCHI Vice-President at Large.