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Luke Perone, Ph.D.

Associate Teaching Professor
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Educational Psychology (Human Development and Learning)
University of Illinois, Chicago
Instructional Leadership/Self-Designed Program
University of Illinois, Chicago
Applied Language Studies
Cornell University


I received my doctorate in Educational Psychology with a focus on Human Development and Learning at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).

I teach introductory psychology and courses in human development. My research interests include the power and possibilities of imaginative play, improvisational theater, performance activism, social therapeutics, humanitarian clowning, and socially-engaged arts to create revolutionary opportunities for lifespan learning, development, and community building.

Prior to my academic career, I had worked as an adult educator and teacher educator of English as a Second Language for more than 20 years and had served as a program coordinator with youth development programs and community/family literacy programs in New York and Illinois.

Current Research

I am passionate about co-creating new opportunities for learning, development, community building, and social change. One of the main ways I explore this passion is through my research and teaching on life-span imaginative play. Imaginative play, broadly defined, can be a revolutionary activity for people to transform themselves and transform the communities of which they are a part. Imaginative play is not only an activity of young children; it’s an activity with transformative potential across the lifespan and I’m particularly excited about the presence and significance of imaginative play by, with, and for adults.

I am a co-creator of an international performance movement that draws upon and creates scholarship in psychology and the arts to support the presence and importance of play and performance across the lifespan. Builders of this movement include youth, academics, and practitioners such as teaching artists, therapists, and community organizers. We believe in the presence and power of play and performance, broadly construed, and offer practical-critical performance opportunities across the lifespan to co-create powerful and inclusive communities.

Students, colleagues, and community members alike who are interested in new approaches to psychology, education, and community building/engagement would be welcome contributors to the work/play in which I engage.


At UW Tacoma, I teach introductory psychology and courses in human development.

TPSYCH 101 – Introduction to Psychology

TPSYCH 220 – Lifespan Development

TPSYCH 319 – Child Development

TPSYCH 322 – Adult Development

TPSYCH 407 – The Cultural Context of Developmental Psychology

TPSYCH 418 – Lifespan Imaginative Play

My teaching interests are integrally linked to my research interests, as I not only am interested in theory and research on the intersections of play, learning, and development, but also offer and co-create playful and collaborative approaches to the learning environments of which I am a part. Topically, I am interested in facilitating experiences related to imaginative play, education (e.g., teacher education or adult education), psychology (e.g., cultural, life-span developmental, educational or writing in the discipline) and collaborations with youth, community and families. Over the course of my teaching career, I have consistently witnessed the importance of play, performance, development, and community building as the cornerstone of not only what I teach, but also how I teach. This union of content, theory, and method is essential to me, one of the most important lessons of my life, and one that I aim to share and build contextually with others.

Academic Service

Institute Associate, the Eastside Institute for Group and Short-Term Psychotherapy.

I am one of approximately 80 associates of the East Side Institute (ESI) for Group and Short-Term Psychotherapy in New York, NY. In this capacity, I join a group of international practitioners, scholars, and activists who have worked closely with ESI for decades. Associates support and are supported by ESI’s mission of radical, humanistic approaches to human development and social/community change. I also serve as a point of contact for people interested in ESI’s social therapeutic approach to community organizing, and their activities to support play and performance across the lifespan and across contexts.

I am an organizer for a biennial event, Performing the World (PTW), a scholarly, critical-practical and performatory conference attended by hundreds of researchers and practitioners from more than 30 countries who explore improvisation, play and performance and its role in learning, development, and community building across contexts and throughout the lifespan.

I am a builder of the Global Play Brigade (GPB). The GPB is a volunteer community of play and performance activists, improvisers, clowns, musicians, educators and therapists who have come together in response to the pandemic and the distressing, inequitable state of our world. We aim to bring people together across borders — to play, create, connect and grow — creating new pathways for social change.

I have been building the Yes, And Higher Education Network (YAHE), an international group of educators and administrators who are (interested in) using play and performance in higher education. Follow us on TikTok:

I have conducted workshops on the use of play, improvisation, and performance in schools and community organizations on the local, national, and international levels.

Scholarly Interests

  • Imaginative play and improvisational theater for community and social change
  • Socially-engaged arts activity/activism
  • Adult education and development
  • Community engagement and development
  • Life-span human development
  • Sociocultural theory
  • Qualitative research
  • Teacher education


Honors and Awards

  • School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Scholarship and Teaching Fund recipient –University of Washington Tacoma, 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2021
  • President’s Research in Diversity Travel Award – The University of Illinois, 2012
  • Graduate Student Award Cultural Historical Special Interest Group – American Educational Research Association, 2011
  • Volunteer Spirit Award - All Starts Project of Chicago, 2010
  • Graduate Student Fellow Division E Counseling and Human Development - American Educational Research Association, 2009
CV / Resume
Selected Publications

Perone, L., & Lobman, C. (2023). Improv as inclusive play: Co-creating learning ensembles in higher education. In O. Jarrett, V. Stenhouse, J. Sutterby, & M. Patte (Eds.), Play and social justice: Equity, advocacy, and opportunity (pp. 195-204). Peter Lang.

Perry, D. (Author). (2020, April 21). Fake sports interviews with yourself after video games or activities are a real thing and have real benefits. Retrieved from 

Lobman, C, Perone, T., & Rich. M. (2019, April). How to support the emotional growth of play diplomats? Play! Play Policy and Practice Connection 19(2), 13-16.

Assoiants, A., & Reyman, C. (Producers). (2018, October 19). Co-creating life-span, imaginative, mindful play [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from 

Lobman, C. & Perone, T. (Eds.). (2018). Big ideas and revolutionary activity: Selected essays, talks, and articles by Lois Holzman. New York: East Side Institute.

Fortier, K. (Producer). (2017, February 15). Performing your world: How imaginative play helps grownups get unstuck [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from 

Vadeboncoeur. J.A., Perone, A. & Panina-Beard, N. (2016). Creativity as a practice of freedom: Through imaginative play to moral imagination and the production of culture. In V.P. Glaveanu (Ed.) The Palgrave Handbook of Creativity and Culture Research (pp. 285-305). London: Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Perone, A., & Göncü, A. (2014). Life-span imaginative play in two communities. Mind, Culture, and Activity 21(3), 200-220.   

Perone, A. (2014, Summer). Healing with(in) imaginative play. Child Life Council Bulletin 32(3), 8. 

Göncü, A., Perone, T, & Ryan, S. “Play.” In L Meyer (Ed), Oxford Bibliographies in Education. New York: Oxford University Press. Launch Date August 26, 2013. 

Perone, A. (2013). The presence and significance of imaginative play in the lives of Mexican-American adults. (Dissertation) 

Perone, A. (2011). Improvising with adult language learners. In R. Keith Sawyer (Ed.),
Structure and improvisation in creative teaching, (pp. 162-183). New York: Cambridge University Press. 

Göncü, A., & Perone, A. (2009). Inquiries into the role of adults in children’s play. Play
and Culture Studies: Vol. 9. Transactions at Play (pp. 125-128). 

Göncü, A., & Perone, A. (2005, September). Pretend play as a life-span activity. Topoi.
“Play, Games and Philosophy.” [Special Issue] 24(2), 137-147.