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

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Is genius made from bootstraps or handouts?

A university in Germany may answer that question by giving out free money for being lazy. The University of Fine Arts in Hamburg said it’s going to give three people $1,900 “idleness grants.”


The “grant for doing nothing” will be for “active inactivity” as the project studies lack of ambition for research for an exhibition next year on sustainability called The School of Inconsequentiality: Towards A Better Life.

“Doing nothing isn’t very easy,” Friedrich von Borries, the architect and design theorist who designed the program, told The Guardian. “We want to focus on active inactivity. If you say you are not going to move for a week, then that’s impressive. If you propose you are not going to move or think, that might be even better.”

“This scholarship program is not a joke but an experiment with serious intentions — how can you turn a society that is structured around achievements and accomplishments on its head?” Von Borries added.

The University of Fine Arts in Hamburg said it’s going to give three people ,900 "idleness grants.” (Google)

The University of Fine Arts in Hamburg said it’s going to give three people $1,900 “idleness grants.” (Google)

Von Borries wants people to leave the hamster wheel of life.

Two of the questions on the application form are: “What do you not want to do?” and “why is it important not to do this thing in particular?”

In a society of accelerationism, always on the go for success or money or happiness, the project is looking at the flipside: a culture of ease and flow.

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

“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?’”


The project is actually for the betterment of humanity, togetherness rather than narcissism.

The exhibition is looking to answer the question: “What can I refrain from so that my life has fewer negative consequences on the lives of others?”

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