decorative blue band

Back to the list of presented papers

Back to the list of abstracts

Building Trans-disciplinary Borderlands for Creative Futures: What barriers and opportunities?

Greg Hearn, Brad Haseman, Erica McWilliam

The call to ‘creativity’ has become increasingly familiar as a catch-phrase of higher education policy. Much current academic and policy discussion, however, is based on assertions of the importance of ‘more creativity’ without any clear sense of what the implications are for the disciplinary cultures that organise knowledge work within universities. This paper explores whether and how disciplinary boundaries can be re-organised so that creativity might become more evident in the teaching and research activities of universities. It utilises a trans-disciplinary move to ‘creative industries’ within one Australian university to open up considerations of whether and how universities might make more of the call to creativity than its current status as a rhetorical flourish in policy documents.
     The advent of the ‘creative industries’ as a new node for re-organising knowledge is taken as a starting point for this exploration. According to the Australian Research Council’s newly established Centre of Excellence in Creative Industries and Innovation, the creative industries are not only the ‘cultural’ industries (ie, the performing and visual arts), although they include many widely recognised cultural activities. In more specific terms, they exploit symbolic knowledge and skills, often through adding value and marketing. In this sense, they combine commercial knowledge and application with aesthetic modes of knowing and doing. It has been estimated by Richard Florida (2004) and others that nearly one third of the future workforce will be identified within the “Creative Workforce” because the nature of their work is turning latent symbolic value of their work into economic and social assets.      
     As is evidenced in the Bologna agreement and pre-empted in the Dearing Report, higher education has a major role to play in preparing the sort of highly educated and flexible workforce necessary to this economic, social and cultural endeavour. It is unlikely, however, that this work will be done best through the transmission of traditional disciplinary knowledge and the requirement that it be reproduced in traditional forms of evaluation and assessment. The argument put here is that a trans-disciplinary knowledge environment has a greater capacity to inform creative work futures. Such an environment is not so easily created in practice, as the paper demonstrates by elaborating lessons learnt from a trans-disciplinary re-structure within the authors’ own university context.

Author Bio(s)

Greg Hearn
Professor Greg Hearn is Director of the Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation at Queensland University of Technology. He has been a pioneer in detailed mapping and integration of the creative industries into innovation policy. In 2005 he was an invited member of a working party examining the role of creativity in the innovation economy for the Australian Prime Minister’s Science Engineering and Innovation Council. His work also includes applications development and evaluation of new technologies and services in the creative industries. Currently, he is a chief investigator on a number of applications development projects currently funded by ARC Linkage grants: (e.g. the Youth Internet Radio Network). His research outputs (5 books, 80 refereed papers or book chapters) bridge across psychology, economics, media and communication studies, cultural studies, forecasting, and management.

Brad Haseman
A/Professor Brad Haseman is Assistant Dean Research in the Faculty of Creative Industries at Queensland University of Technology. He has been an award-winning teacher and supervisor and has designed a highly innovative Doctor of Creative Industries program with strong connections to leaders and managers in the commercial sector. This coursework doctorate represents a radical departure from the traditional PhD and features a common and stable theory base (around reflective practice, practice-led research and interdisciplinarity), a modularised course structure and cumulative assessment. He has also contributed nationally to debates about the place of research in the arts, media and design.

Erica McWilliam
Erica McWilliam is Professor of Education and Assistant Dean Research in the Faculty of Education at the Queensland University of Technology. She currently leads the Creative Workforce research program within the newly established Australian ARC Centre of Excellence for Creativity and Innovation. Her recent scholarship around what she terms “the Yuk/Wow Generation” builds on her long-term research into pedagogical processes and the impact of social change. She has produced 7 books (2 sole-authored) in 10 years, and 5 books, 15 book chapters, 18 refereed articles and 15 refereed conference papers in the last 5 years. Her strong reputation has been achieved through her extensive publications, but also through her editorial leadership (she is she sole editor of ‘Eruptions’, an interdisciplinary academic series with Peter Lang Publishing, New York) and her numerous invited keynote presentations to academic and professional conferences.