Chairs

Australia

Australia, Brisbane

Centre for Public Culture and Ideas
Phone: (61) (0) 7 3875 7175
Fax: (61) (0) 7 3875 7507
http://www.griffith.edu.au/arts-languages-criminology/centre-public-culture-ideas

Pat Hoffie
Griffith University
p.hoffie@griffith.edu.a

 

Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2006 International Conference

This conference afforded me the opportunity to recontexulise some of the valuable research findings that I presented at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis 2005. The following is a summary of the inform presented at the conference:

 

Creating and sustaining knowledge societies in the age of e-learning: A challenge to cultural diversity

The paradigm of ‘knowledge societies’ directs our attention to the complex transformations occurring within information and communication technologies and the broader social, cultural, economic, political and institutional environments that accommodate these technologies. To successfully negotiate ICT integration and transformations, careful and innovative policies and planning are essential. UNESCO has identified four vital principles for the successful construction of knowledge societies as: freedom of expression, universal access to information, equal access to education and cultural diversity.

Levels of diversity and disparity in geography, demography, cultures, languages and economies are reportedly greater in the Asia Pacific region than in any other. Extreme disparities also exist in levels of ICT infrastructure, access, usage and development along side significant differences in access and approaches to higher education. These specificities of complexity and diversity in the Asia Pacific region provide a focal point for addressing processes involved in constructing knowledge societies and the roles of stakeholders – governments, the private sector, civil society and regional and international organisations – in managing these revolutionary changes.

Universities can be significant players in sustaining cultural diversity in processes and outcomes. This requires new levels of innovation, flexibility, collaboration and risk taking in university practice. In particular, this presentation addresses the role of universities in sustaining cultural diversity through strategic partnerships with stakeholders, innovative projects promoting open access information, multiple information literacies, community inputs and preservation of the region’s diverse community knowledges (including traditional environmental knowledges), languages and cultural heritages.

 

Digital Arts Network

As a member of the Griffith University digital arts network I keep up-to-date with recent legislative developments in the area of copyright, as well as information technologies that benefit humanities and creative practitioners. In my role as Orbicom UNESCO chair I have been able to contribute to digital arts research, assessing impact upon cultural diversity and role in the creation and maintenance of local knowledge communities.

 

Update on Appointment to the Indigenous Advisory Committee of the State Library of Queensland.

In the previous report I mentioned my new appointment to the Indigenous Advisory Committee of the State Library of Queensland. The Indigenous Library Services unit is responsible for the establishment and operation of Indigenous Knowledge Centres in remote communities in Queensland and the new Indigenous Knowledge Centre in the soon to be completed State Library of Queensland buildings in Brisbane. Indigenous knowledge is central to development of the new State Library premises to open at end of 2006. kuril dhagun is the orientation centre to the library’s Indigenous collection and provides Indigenous visitors with access to online text and still and moving image data bases, research papers etc and links them to family history resources. The State Library also supports Indigenous knowledge through federally funded training programs to develop IT skills in these communities.

 

Other Projects

As Co-Director of a major Research Centre I have been able to capitalise on Centre resources and networks in my work as a UNESCO Chair and have become involved in planning and implementation of a number of other Griffith University-based projects that relate to recording and dissemination of new and traditional knowledges.

 

Creative For Life

Creative for Life is a major new research initiative for our Centre. Conceptually, creative for life views creativity as a strategic intervention in the context of our ageing world. This project draws on an existing understanding—that creativity increases quality of life amongst the ageing population—and builds upon this, suggesting a whole life approach to creativity from cradle to the grave, incorporating mind, body and spirit. Creative for life sees the need for research that addresses, documents and theorises issues of creativity and lifestyle, lived environment, design services, infrastructure for the ageing, public engagement and public debate on societal ageism. ‘Creativity, IT and quality of life’ is an integral theme in the project.

Cross-cultural research initiatives under the umbrella of living and ageing well will address creative lifestyles, encourage public debates re demographic change and impact, develop a history of ageing, honour personal stories and promote human rights. Creative for life promotes inter-disciplinary activity across the university bringing together the arts sector [cultural, historical, design and creative practitioners] with IT, urban planing, human resources, medical and social workers with the aim of getting communities to engage in new technologies and foster new ways of understanding and living.

 

Brisbane Memory Project

Brisbane Memories is a collaborative research venture of the Centre for Public Culture and Ideas in partnership with the Brisbane City Council Library Service. The project, led by Professor Paul Turnbull, has several aims. It seeks to identify and develop innovative ways of meeting the technical and conceptual challenges of managing knowledge of past events and places created interactively by a culturally diverse community of users using wikipedia style software packages. The project is also concerned to explore the meanings and values users give historically significant places in the Brisbane region through providing the means of creating and sharing relatively unmediated recollections of past experience. A further long-term research goal of the project is to investigate the implications of participation in interactive, collaborative reflection on places of personal and communal historical significance for self and communal identity. The Brisbane memories project draws together history, creativity and cultural tourism strategies in order to develop IT skills and promote community well being.

 

World Summit on the Information Society
In November 2005 I joined over 18,000 people ranging from presidents to information technology specialists in Tunis for the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society. I was there at the invitation of UNESCO to take part in a roundtable discussion about the role of its University Chairs Programme in the revolutionary environmental and technological changes driving the construction of Knowledge Societies.

Our UNESCO roundtable attracted a capacity audience. Short addresses by the Director-General Mr Koichoro Matsuura and leading UNESCO officials in education opened the roundtable followed by our panel of UNESCO Chairs representing the Arab States, African, Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean and the Asia Pacific region. My paper addressed the central issue of how to accommodate cultural diversity in Knowledge Societies in the Asia Pacific region and how UNESCO Chairs can facilitate this process. A heated discussion followed the panel as local academics challenged UNESCO over its role in the present and UNESCO pledged greater support for future developments.

As a result of presenting at this summit, UNESCO has agreed to distribute my report, along with those of other contributors, which are currently in publication.

My research surrounding knowledge societies and information technology uptake in higher education has subsequently lead me to submit a paper for presentation at the Higher Education and Development Society of Australasia’s (HERDSA) National Conference in July 2006. My proposal titled Creating and sustaining knowledge societies in the age of e-learning: A challenge to cultural diversity, is currently under consideration from the HERDSA review panel. An abridged version of this research initiate is provided below.

 

Summary of current research initiative

The paradigm of ‘knowledge societies’ directs our attention to the complex transformations occurring within information and communication technologies and the broader social, cultural, economic, political and institutional environments that accommodate these technologies. To successfully negotiate ICT integration and transformations, careful and innovative policies and planning are essential. UNESCO has identified four vital principles for the successful construction of knowledge societies as: freedom of expression, universal access to information, equal access to education and cultural diversity.

Levels of diversity and disparity in geography, demography, cultures, languages and economies are reportedly greater in the Asia Pacific region than in any other. Extreme disparities also exist in levels of ICT infrastructure, access, usage and development along side significant differences in access and approaches to higher education. These specificities of complexity and diversity in the Asia Pacific region provide a focal point for addressing processes involved in constructing knowledge societies and the roles of stakeholders – governments, the private sector, civil society and regional and international organisations – in managing these revolutionary changes.

Universities can be significant players in sustaining cultural diversity in processes and outcomes. This requires new levels of innovation, flexibility, collaboration and risk taking in university practice. In particular, I am concerned with addressing the role of universities in sustaining cultural diversity through strategic partnerships with stakeholders through innovative projects that promote open access, multiple information literacies, community inputs and preservation of the region’s diverse community knowledges (including traditional environmental knowledges), languages and cultural heritages (tangible and intangible).

 

Projects

Intersections: Environment Through Art

Intersections: Environment Through Art has been sponsored by my role as Orbicom UNESCO Chair in association with The Centre For Public Culture and Ideas, Griffith University. Intersections is essentially a web portal which promotes public knowledge, innovative interdisciplinary endeavours and culturally diverse interpretations of the Australian landscape. In keeping with one of UNESCO's central mandates – to increase, maintain and promote the free exchange of ideas and knowledge - this website disseminates public knowledge about the many exciting projects bringing together science, culture, history and community in innovative ways to study the Australian environment. Advantages of this website include publicising projects, providing a centre point to streamline research, and creating opportunities for greater communication, networking and information-exchange between practitioners, new researchers and interested members of the public.

Intersections is especially focused on promoting: Indigenous knowledge and perceptions, Australian Aboriginal archaeology and anthropology, cultural identity and nature, imaginings of the future and sacred ecologies among other more prominent environmental issues such as pollution and salinity.

 

Other Projects

As Co-Director of a major Research Centre I have been able to capitalise on Centre resources and networks in my work as a UNESCO Chair and have become involved in planning and implementation of a number of other Griffith University-based projects that relate to recording and dissemination of new and traditional knowledges.
QPACifika
QPACifika is a joint initiative of Griffith University, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and the Queensland Museum in collaboration with Pacific communities, cultural bodies and organisations. QPACifika is a response to the knowledge gap that currently inhibits greater understanding of contemporary Pacific culture and aims to address this shortcoming by promoting multidisciplinary and cross-cultural dialogues contributing to institutional and communal knowledge and knowledge practices. The practical outcomes of QPACifika will generate a wealth of new insight and material for in-depth analysis of innovation and cultural continuities in Pacific artistic production and its significance for promoting cross-cultural understanding in Australia and the Pacific region.

 

The Queensland Indigenous Cultural Atlas

The Queensland Indigenous Cultural Atlas employs digital technologies to capture and represent the complexities of experience that have shaped Indigenous and non-Indigenous senses of self, community and land. More specifically, the project aims to address a significant weakness in Queensland historiography. This is the paucity of detailed histories of particular Aboriginal peoples of Queensland. Until the publication of detailed studies of frontier relations the Indigenous peoples of Queensland either did not figure in the region’s history or received brief mention in the course of narratives focused on the exploits of explorers and pastoralists. To advance Queensland historiography so as to do justice to the region’s Indigenous cultural diversity then we must work closely with particular communities, using new and cost effective technologies to document their experiences.

 

Appointments

I have been appointed to the Indigenous Advisory Committee of the State Library of Queensland. The Indigenous Library Services unit is responsible for the establishment and operation of Indigenous Knowledge Centres in remote communities in Queensland and the new Indigenous Knowledge Centre in the soon to be completed State Library of Queensland buildings in Brisbane.