German university offering grants to people who want to do absolutely nothing

What's Happening

Researchers in Germany are giving out scholarships in “idleness” and are willing to pay people to do as little as humanly possible.

The University of Fine Arts in Hamburg is searching for exactly the right people to take part in a unique project examining laziness and lack of ambition.

Applicants will have to convince the academics they will be inactive in a particularly interesting way to win one of only three 1,600 Euro (£1,450) scholarships available.

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The application form asks potential idlers both “what do you not want to do?” and “why is it important not to do this thing in particular?”

Professor Friedrich von Borries – who designed the project – thinks it is important to study laziness more closely to help bring about an “eco-social” transformation. “It is about exiting the constant success spiral, getting off life’s hamster wheel,” he said.

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Anti-government protesters try to remove concrete wall that installed by security forces to prevent protesters reaching the Parliament square, during a protest against the political elites and the government after this week’s deadly explosion in Beirut

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A protester throws a stone towards Israeli forces in the village of Turmus Aya, north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, following a march by Palestinians against the building of Israeli settlements

15/50 6 August 2020

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19/50 2 August 2020

Empty stall spaces are seen hours before a citywide curfew is introduced in Melbourne, Australia

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26/50 26 July 2020

Federal officers launch tear gas at a group of demonstrators during a Black Lives Matter protest outside the Portland Courthouse

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28/50 24 July 2020

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29/50 23 July 2020

Federal officers arrest a protester after she crossed a fence line set up around the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in Portland, Oregon. State and city elected officials have called for the federal officers to leave Portland as clashes between protesters and federal police continue to escalate

30/50 22 July 2020

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31/50 21 July 2020

A Black Lives Matter protester carries an American flag as teargas fills the air outside the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland, Oregon

32/50 20 July 2020

A trader decorates a camel with Henna at a cattle market set up for the upcoming Muslim festival Eid al-Adha also called “Festival of the Sacrifice”, in Rawalpindi

33/50 19 July 2020

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34/50 18 July 2020

Revellers take part in the annual Gay Pride parade, also called Christopher Street Day in Frankfurt

35/50 17 July 2020

Airplanes of the Scandinavian Airshow draw a heart in the sky, above the Turning Torso building in Malmo, Sweden

36/50 16 July 2020

Farmers protest outside the Indonesian Parliament against the cancellation of an ‘omnibus bill’ that aims to revise dozens of existing laws to ease the way for investment in Southeast Asia’s largest economy in Jakarta

37/50 15 July 2020

Flooding in Sunamganj. Almost four million people have been hit by monsoon floods in South Asia, with a third of Bangladesh already underwater from some of the heaviest rains in a decade

38/50 14 July 2020

Second Republican infantry guard regiment take part in the annual Bastille Day military ceremony on the Place de la Concorde in Paris

39/50 13 July 2020

A man walks his dog through thick sea foam blowing ashore during a storm in Seapoint, Cape Town, South Africa

40/50 12 July 2020

Security forces on the outskirts of Amritsar take part in Van Mahotsav, an annual tree-planting festival in India

41/50 11 July 2020

People covered with coloured powder enjoy music during the Holi festival in Minsk, Belarus

42/50 10 July 2020

A demonstrator during clashes following the funeral of 29-year-old Palestinian Ibrahim Abou Yacoub, who was killed by Israeli forces, in the village of Kifl Hares, south of the West Bank city of Nablus

43/50 9 July 2020

The sun rises in Timmendorfer Strand, northern Germany

44/50 8 July 2020

Portraits of healthcare workers are pasted on the Opera Bastille, designed by Anne-Christine Poujoulat, to pay tribute to caregivers during the Covid-19 pandemic in Paris

45/50 7 July 2020

Tengger tribe people make their way to the summit of Mount Bromo volcano to make offerings in Probolinggo, as part of the Yadnya Kasada Festival. The Tenggerese climb the active volcano to seek the blessing from the main deity by presenting offerings of rice, fruit, livestock and other items

46/50 6 July 2020

A healthcare worker checks the temperature of residents during a check-up campaign in Mumbai, India

47/50 5 July 2020

People wearing protective face masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus sit at a bus stop in the city of Zanjan, Iran

48/50 4 July 2020

Protesters blocking an exit to the precinct of the officers who arrested Elijah McClain, cover their ears anticipating the use of flash-bang grenades by police in Aurora, Colorado

49/50 3 July 2020

A member of the Israeli border police jumps during a Palestinian protest against Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank, in Kafr Qaddum near Nablus

50/50 2 July 2020

A surfer jumps clear of his board while enjoying winter waves at New Brighton Beach in Christchurch, New Zealand

Applicants from across Germany are invited to submit their pitches on their plans for “active inactivity” before 15 September.

“If we want to live in a society that consumes less energy, wastes fewer resources, this is not the right system of values,” Professor von Borries told Germany’s Deutsche Welle broadcaster.

“Wouldn’t it be nicer to gain social prestige by saying, ‘I have time to dream … meet friends, put up my feet – I have time to do nothing?’”

Not everyone is convinced the project is worthwhile. Professor von Borries said Germany’s Taxpayers’ Association have questioned the idea and demanded to know who is financing the experiment.

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The project will form part of an exhibition called School of Inconsequentiality: Towards A Better Life planned at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg next year.

It comes as researchers in Berlin prepare give a select group of people just over £1,000 a month, no strings attached, as part of an experiment to assess the potential benefits of introducing a universal basic income (UBI).

The German pilot study will initially see 120 people handed the monthly sum of 1,200 Euros to monitor how it changes their work patterns and leisure time.

The radical idea has attracted a growing amount of interest around the world as a way of potentially supporting people during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

Advocates claim a small, regular income from the state to all citizens would help tackle poverty, encourage more flexible working practices, and allow some people to spend more time caring for older family members.