We’ve heard that one justification for philanthropy in a democracy, where giving is not subject to the democratic process, comes from its capacity to spur innovation -- new, breakthrough ideas intended to benefit the public good that are less likely to emerge from formal political processes.
To me that sounds very much like play. Given some basic rules, let’s see what we can come up with. In his classic work, Homo Ludens, Johan Huizinga explored the centrality of play in human culture; its useful role in learning and socialization, but also in generating new ideas and possibilities.
Most professions provide elements of play through conferences and associational life. The many conferences and associations we have in philanthropy strive to bring fun (though not too loudly) to learning, working, and advancing one’s career. Still, we often overlook play in philanthropy because we spend a lot of time working to convince those outside of professional philanthropic circles that what we do is serious and not just an optional flourish for a world that is mostly driven by the competition for scarce resources, built on top of a geopolitical struggle for survival.
In a world where benevolent AI has freed us to imagine ever more creative ways to advance the social good, what better way to do this than through play.
I hope you will consider joining our events for the upcoming semester that will be hosted by the school and our institutes. They will provide opportunities to play with knowledge as you join us in exploring philanthropy in our emerging age. Embracing the possibilities of philanthropy is not limited to the semi-mythical figures that dominate the media. Playful discoveries of our common philanthropy are here for all of us.
Eugene R. Tempel Dean