The Institute for Culture and Society researches transformations in culture and society in the context of contemporary global change. It champions collaborative engaged research in the humanities and social sciences for a globalizing digital age.
The Institute is the largest dedicated research concentration of its kind in Australia.
The Institute's engaged research is committed to making a positive difference in the world. It is engaged ethically and reciprocally with others. Our aim is to carry out innovative interdisciplinary research into continuities and transformations in culture and society in a way that contributes to understanding and shaping contemporary local and global life. This approach involves being reflexively engaged both with the world and in understanding the conditions and limits of its own knowledge practices.
The world today is undergoing change at an unprecedented scale and speed. Major global trends include global civilizational tensions, technological transformations, environmental crises, economic instability, geopolitical shifts, unprecedented transnational mobilities, and rampant urbanization. These trends pose massive challenges for culture and society. They affect our ways of life and require far-reaching cultural adaptation at local, national and global levels.
The Institute's research program speaks to these multidimensional problems and challenges. A key concern for the Institute is to address the increasingly problematic and uncertain status of knowledge in the contemporary world as a consequence of the increasing complexity of culture and society, including the rise of digital technologies.
Located in Parramatta, Australia, at Western Sydney University, the Institute operates a vigorous program of events that are both locally and globally oriented. Its regular Knowledge/Culture conference series has included addresses from leading international scholars such as Dipesh Chakrabarty, Penny Harvey, Bruno Latour, Timothy Mitchell, Aihwa Ong, and Nikolas Rose. In 2015 this conference was held in Hanoi.
Institute members work in a broad range of fields including cultural studies, sociology, media and communication studies, human geography, anthropology, history, museum studies, heritage studies, and urban studies. The Institute's senior staff members comprise a unique group of world-renowned scholars including Ien Ang, Tony Bennett, Gay Hawkins and Greg Noble (cultural studies and cultural theory), Kay Anderson, Katherine Gibson, Donald McNeill and Deborah Stevenson (human geography and urban studies), Bob Hodge, Paul James and Brett Neilson (social theory and global studies), and Ned Rossiter and David Rowe (media and digital studies). ICS also has many others members at earlier stages in their research careers. These scholars work with and across these disciplinary boundaries on questions of cultural and social change.