Cultural Science

Cultural Science is the lead program in CCI’s ‘conceptual modelling’ theme cluster. It addresses CCI’s vision directly, through the aim of exploring in depth the challenges of the creative industries and innovation for our core academic discipline fields and multiple policy domains. For example, in a world-first, since 2008 we have developed a truly interdisciplinary approach to culture, innovation and creativity, derived from evolutionary science (including economics), complexity science (including systems theory) and cultural/media studies; it was this conceptual innovation that made the theoretical and analytical work in the 2012 Creative City Index project possible.

The program has provided national benefit in contributing to an improved understanding and recognition of the nature and extent of the creative industries and ‘creative economy’, through its Creative City Index and multiple book publications; demonstrating the value of digital literacy, content innovation and user-led innovation; through two summative books: The Uses of Digital Literacy and Digital Futures for Cultural & Media Studies; and showing international leadership in providing  ministerial-level advice and policy formation in China, Indonesia, the UK and Australia.

The project’s cumulative research and publications has moved cultural studies towards cultural science, building critical mass with new capacity for interdisciplinary, collaborative approaches by, for example, linking cultural- media studies with internet studies, economics, and the history of ideas/ science and technology in society. This has been characterised by collaboration with major international centres and research programs, and underpins our research training.


John Hartley was a Visiting Researcher at WZB Berlin in 2013, where he worked with Thomas Petzold on inter-language relations on the internet, giving a paper on ‘Why is there no Nyungar Wikipedia?’ at the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, which in turn informed a successful ARC Indigenous Discovery grant bid. Hartley also visited Cardiff University to collaborate on the AHRC-funded ‘Creative Citizens’ project, as well as Hacettepe University (Turkey) for a keynote presentation to the international Digital Storytelling Conference organised by CCI PhD graduate Burcu Simsek.

Henry Siling Li joined the program as a Curtin Research Fellow. His work focused on developing new research collaborations in China, especially with Shenzhen Institute for Cultural Industries (Shenzhen University), Zhejiang University of Media & Communications (Hanzhou), Fudan University (Shanghai) and Macau University, all of which were visited during the year by he and John Hartley, with agreements formalised. Lucy Montgomery visited Curtin University to present the launch of the Knowledge Unlatched start-up, an experimental model for publishing humanities-based monographs. Leaver continued research on the ‘Ends of Identity’ project, investigating birth and death in social media (Twitter and Facebook). Axel Bruns from CCI at QUT collaborated with Curtin-based CCI researchers Hartley and Leaver (among others) in a successful ARC LIEF bid that will assist in continuing the research collaborations arising from this program.

Numerous publications were completed. 2013 was especially devoted to the completion of the manuscript for Cultural Science: The Evolution of Meaningfulness (John Hartley and Jason Potts), for Bloomsbury Academic (London). ‘Writing boot-camps’ were held at RMIT and Curtin universities to enable intensive collaboration on conceptual development for the project. An issue of the Journal of Cultural Science was published on ‘Community Uses of Co-Creative Media’ and ‘User-Created Citizenship’ with papers from John Hartley and Elle Rennie from CCI, two CCI PhDs (Sonja Vivienne and Pip Shea), and colleagues from QUT.

The Cultural Science monograph will be delivered to the publishers in 2014. The Cultural Science research and team will continue as a program in CCAT (Centre for Culture and Technology) at Curtin, and the Cultural Science Journal will continue into its seventh year.

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