The Cambridge Lego Professorship Is Every Kid’s Dream Job Come True

The premier University of Cambridge is creating a new professorship in LEGO, catching the eye of researchers hoping to relive their childhoods. Slated to start in October and funded through some £2.5 million (about $4 million) in donations from the LEGO Foundation, the position will reside in the Cambridge department of education and will be under the official moniker of the LEGO Professorship of Play in Education, Development, and Learning. The general board of Cambridge approved the new role in June, but a spokesman for the university said that more details about what the professorship entails and how candidates will be considered for it will be released in the fall.

It is not yet clear just what a professorship of LEGO entails. (I assume that the researcher will be required to produce groundbreaking academic research of some kind, even if he or she spends her spare time assembling little colored blocks into various space ships.) The Cambridge University Reporter notes that the professorship will be "open to all those whose work falls within the general field of the title of the office."

The key facet of the LEGO professor's duties that has been specified thus far is the researcher's role in heading up a new research center on how play influences childhood development and education. The LEGO Foundation has given an additional £1.5 million ($2.4 million USD) to support the creation of the Research Centre on Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDaL) at Cambridge.

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The LEGO Foundation owns a quarter stake in the Danish toy company that has become a staple of childhood around the world with its “if-you-can-dream-it,-you-can-build-it” block sets. The Foundation invests in research and academic work on childhood play and development.

Cambridge vice-chancellor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz said the new role followed large donations from the toy manufacturer.

According to the Reporter, Cambridge Vice Chancellor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz said that he “accepted with gratitude a benefaction of £1.5m from the Lego Foundation, payable over three years, of which both the capital and the income may be used to support a Research Centre on Play in Education, Development, and Learning within the Faculty of Education over the same period.”

Twitter responded to Cambridge’s announcement with excitement.

Where do we apply?” asked @cathyby.

Securing LEGO sponsorship for academic research gave other students ideas.

“If Lego are going to fund a Cambridge professorship, perhaps @OfficialHARIBO would consider funding 3 yrs of my work on German philosophy...” tweeted @RuthxJackson.

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This is not the first time that one of the world’s premier institutions of higher education has advertised for eccentric research positions. According to BBC News, the Cambridge Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology was searching for a Ph.D. student willing to take on a project focused primarily on chocolate. Cambridge was hoping to understand how to design a heat-stable chocolate that wouldn’t melt in hot climates. (Sounds like a sweet deal.)

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