NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

Edition 30, 2020 – Interdisciplinarity

On campus at the Australian National University the Schools of Art and Design (SOA&D) and Music (SoM) are neighbours, both physically and metaphorically. We see connections with science, medicine, economics, the social sciences and humanities, digital technologies and other disciplines as highly effective models of research and evidence that are increasingly important.

Dr Ruth De Souza recently joined the School of Art at RMIT University as a Vice Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Dr De Souza is a nurse, academic and a community-engaged researcher in gender, race, health and digital technologies. Her Fellowship will engage health professionals in finding new ways to understand, co-design and implement sustainable cultural safety initiatives in a range of health contexts in response to health inequities. But why in a School of Art?

Universities Australia-wide are increasingly championing interdisciplinary research. Monash University … advertises that it “invests” in interdisciplinary research to support “the next generation of research students”. And indeed, as far as my research is concerned, they followed through on that statement.

We live in uncertain and debilitating times which deserve informed and transparent political and cultural discourse and participation. However, numerous political leaders across the world lack courage, empathy and imagination in their approach to the COVID-19 and climate emergencies and the lingering and toxic outcomes of colonisation and globalised capital.

Dr Lyndall Adams recently completed a major public art project as part of the Wanneroo Road/Joondalup Drive Interchange Bridge Project, for Main Roads WA. Professor Clive Barstow talked to Lyndall about collaborating with industry from ideas to completion.

As a musician and researcher, I recognise interdisciplinarity as virtually ubiquitous amongst creative and research fields, in spite of inevitable resistance from some. Its purpose is generally to foster innovation, which depends on the extension of possibilities beyond the familiar.

2020 spectacularly demonstrated how more than ever humanity is required to work collaboratively to face the wicked problems we created and try and imagine shared futures. Working in the area of Art and the Frontier technologies of the Life Sciences, we are acutely aware to the entanglement of biology with culture and how both disciplines … effect and affect the way we live.

When Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) internal whistle-blower, Jeff Morris, exposed the actions of ‘Dodgy Don’ – a CBA financial planner who allegedly forged signatures, overcharged fees and created unauthorised investment accounts for his customers without their permission – Morris contributed to setting in motion the 2017 Banking Royal Commission.