I have to say I love being part of the School of Design, Communication and Information Technology.
The idea to bring together these disciplines over ten years ago at the University of Newcastle (UoN) was a brilliant proactive step. People questioned why such a school was being formed at the time, but in 2015, this school is really coming into its own.
In 2007, when I applied for my current role, I was attracted to the position by the combination of disciplines within the School. It resonated with what I saw happening in the creative industries world. In 2014, we attracted a really bright academic from Germany into IT, Dr Marc Adam. He commented to me that it was also the unique structure of our School that attracted him to the University of Newcastle!
Much of what happens in this School is at the crux of what creative industries is about. Just look at the rise of creative industries over the past decade as a focus for Australia’s, and more particularly, Newcastle’s economic future.
Teaching courses both in Newcastle and Singapore campuses, overall we’ve been delivering really high standards in teaching from the start. Our graduates are working all over the world and locally, many now attaining leadership positions or running their own businesses.
University of Newcastle’s Young Alumnus of the Year 2014 was visual communication (design) graduate, Jacob Cass, now living and working in New York. One of my own ex-students, Siobhan Dillon, now works as a Press and Political Adviser at the European Parliament in Brussels. Journalism graduate, Allyson Horn works in the Journalist in Charge role in the Townsville newsroom for the ABC. UoN graduate, Matthew Gain, was promoted in September 2013 to General Manager for Edelman in Sydney, part of the world’s largest public relations firm. What a thrill it is to see our highly creative graduates going from strength to strength locally as well.
In terms of research, I believe our school is just hitting its stride. I love being part of this culture and being in a situation over the past eight years at the University of Newcastle to both be part of, and view, the emergence of some excellent research. The University recently highlighted where my research is going – it’s great support.
Many in our School were employed because we were at the top of our game in our creative professions. I find it amazing that so many of us are still so current in practice but have also obtained PhDs and produced world-class academic research. I think that’s pretty unique.
In academic settings, successful teams and research collaborations take time. Academic disciplines within our School are all relatively new to the university setting when compared to the sciences and law and so on. However, each of our disciplines has links with the more traditional areas of academia. I’ve seen my information technology colleagues working with those in health, the design crew working with engineering and the natural history illustration academics collaborating with the science researchers.
In my own discipline of communication, we’re collaborating with information technology and design researchers. In addition we can be seen working on research projects with academics and industry specialists from social psychology, fine art, cultural studies, science and so on from across Australia and the world. For example, I’m really excited about being on the scientific committee for the forthcoming Positioning Theory Symposium in Belgium in July 2015. This is leading to the publication of a multidisciplinary handbook on the application of Positioning Theory. Who would have thought back in 2007 that my first academic book (published in 2014) would be endorsed by international experts? Certainly, not I.
However what I truly love seeing is the expansion in the School’s research higher degree candidates. We have many students across all disciplines and I relish how they are part of the School’s collegiate community and how they contribute to the overall great buzz we have in the School. I must admit that supervising research students is one of my favourite parts of my role.
My colleague, Dr Janet Fulton, runs the Communication and Media Research Group website and this month she has featured one of our PhD students, Victoria Jack. Victoria is a journalist and passionate refugee advocate whose PhD research focuses on communication as aid. This is really “edgy” research and it’s happening right here in Newcastle. We’re also often seen in the media! It makes me so proud to work at the University of Newcastle and to have the opportunity to work with such people.
I know a lot of people whinge about their workplaces. Even though not everyday is a bed of roses by any means, working in the School of Design, Communication and IT has been a joy, and continues to be. What a privilege it is to still be excited about what’s to come. Stay tuned world!