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Design and Social Innovation in Asia-Pacific Network

Capacity building in the Asia-Pacific region

How does design accompany and accelerate economic growth? Economies within the Asia-Pacific region are facing challenges of balancing economic development with social and cultural sustainability. 

Design and Social Innovation in Asia-Pacific (DESIAP) is a learning platform, a community of practice and a network for collaboration and ongoing knowledge sharing for various practitioners, researchers, communities, and professionals working in the Design and Social Innovation (D&SI) space in this region. We facilitate rich exchanges on diverse, culturally respectful and contextually specific approaches to real-world problems. 

Visit the DESIAP website.

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Yoko Akama
Associate Professor, Communication Design Cluster
School: Communication Design

+61 3 9925 2805
RMIT staff profile
yoko.akama@rmit.edu.au

Yoko Akama is a design researcher at RMIT University, Australia. She co-leads the Design and Social Innovation in Asia-Pacific network and Design+Ethnography+Futures research program at RMIT

Her Japanese heritage has embedded a Zen-informed relational practice to carve a tao’ (path) in design and has published extensively on this topic. This practice is shaped by working with regional communities in Australia in strengthening their resilience for disaster preparedness, and with Indigenous Nations enact their sovereignty and self-determination. She is an Adjunct Fellow of a ecosystem innovation studio, Re:public Japan, and Visiting Fellow at the Centre of Excellence in Media Practice, Bournemouth University. She serves on several editorial boards of international journals, and conference review committees. She is a recipient of several major research grants in Australia and the UK and winner of the prestigious Good Design Australia Awards in 2014.

Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange

Changing the stories we tell and listen to

Perspectives shift and networks expand when writers step out of their comfort zone and into unfamiliar cultural spaces where they can connect and share ideas with other writers. Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange (WrICE) program contributes to an Asia-Pacific community of writers in a collaborative way, influencing broader societal perspectives and changing the stories we tell and listen to. It provides a framework for intercultural and intergenerational dialogue — the exchange and furthering of knowledge, creativity, skills and cultural perspectives. 

Visit the WrICE website.

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Francesca Rendle-Short
Associate Professor and Associate Dean, Writing and Publishing
School: Media and Communication

+61 3 9925 9052
Personal website
francesca.rendle-short@rmit.edu.au

Francesca Rendle-Short is Associate Dean Writing and Publishing in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. She is co-founder of the non/​fictionLab research group and co-director of WrICE (Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange). She has a Doctor of Creative Arts from the University of Wollongong, was a recipient of an International Nonfiction Writers Fellowship to the University of Iowa, and was showcased in the Outstanding Field at Victoria College of the Arts, University of Melbourne.

Francesca Rendle-Short is an award winning novelist, memoirist and essayist. Her books include Bite Your Tongue, Imago, and The Near and The Far; also the forthcoming 100 Love Letters, and No Notes (This is writing). Her artwork is in the collection of the State Library of Queensland.


David Carlin
Professor of Creative Writing, Co-Director of the non/fictionLab, Co-Director WrICE
School: Media and Communication

9225 3934
Personal website
david.carlin@rmit.edu.au

David Carlin is a writer, creative artist and scholar. His books include The Abyssinian Contortionist, Our Father Who Wasn’t There, and (forthcoming) The After-Normal for Rose Metal Press, and 100 Atmospheres: Studies in Scale and Wonder for Open Humanities Press. David’s essays, plays, radio features, exhibitions, documentary and short films have won awards and featured at numerous international festivals. He co-edited a cross-cultural anthology of Asian and Australian writers, The Near and the Far (with Francesca Rendle-Short, Scribe 2016) and Performing Digital (Routledge, 2015), about the Circus Oz Living Archive project he led. Co-President of the NonfictioNOW Conference, the world’s leading conference in literary nonfiction, David is a Professor at RMIT University, Australia, where he co-directs WrICE and non/​fictionLab.

Being Wiradjuri Together

Co-designing self determination

What does it mean to be non-Indigenous and design with, and in response to, Indigenous peoples and knowledge? How can design be of substantial, long-lasting benefit to Indigenous people?

Being Wiradjuri Together is about Wiradjuri people who are self-determining — renewing cultural practices and expressing what it means to be Wiradjuri. This is catalyzed through co-designing with Wiradjuri to create various mechanisms — print, video, social media, digital platform and community events — to connect, share and be Wiradjuri together.

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Peter West
Lecturer, Communication Design
School: Media and Communication

RMIT staff profile
peter.west@rmit.edu.au

Peter West is a Communication Design lecturer and PhD candidate. He has a diverse teaching practice which moves across areas such as communications strategy, art direction and design for social change. He draws upon practical industry experience as both a freelance art director and copy writer within both multinational communications agencies and health related communications strategies within the not for profit sector. 

His research focuses on ways in which Non-Indigenous creative practitioners can better understand their subject position in relation to Indigenous sovereignty. West is as a chief investigator on Sovereign Weaving Project: Practicing Sovereign Relations through Weaving a Treaty’. The project seeks to support Indigenous Nations to practice their sovereignty, through the realisation of a woven treaty as the conclusion of their diplomatic responsibilities.

GAHSPH Research Network

Facilitating the improvement of refugee housing design

Never has the demand been so urgent for development and research into refugee housing design. The Global Humanitarian Shelter and Public Health Sectors (GAHSPH) Research Network focuses on innovations in refugee housing design, which can radically improve and ensure better health outcomes for refugees worldwide. The significance of this Network lies in facilitating research collaboration between the shelter, education and public health sectors.

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Esther Charlesworth
Professor
School: Architecture and Urban Design

9225 2876
RMIT staff profile
esther.charlesworth@rmit.edu.au

Esther Charlesworth is a Professor in the School of Architecture and Design at RMIT University, and the Academic Director of the RMIT Master of Disaster, Design and Development degree [MoDDD]. She is also the founding Director of Architects without Frontiers (AWF). Since 2002, AWF has undertaken over 40 health, education and social infrastructure projects in 12 countries for vulnerable communities, and has been described by ABC radio broadcaster Phillip Adams as destined to develop into one of the greater forces of good on this battered planet’. 

Charlesworth has published seven books on the theme of social justice and architecture, including: Humanitarian Architecture (2014) and Sustainable Housing Reconstruction (2015).

Creative Agency

Networking creative change-makers

Creative Agency is a community of creative makers, academics, industry professionals and organisations committed to arts, education and social change. The Agency is both a virtual and material co-share workspace in and beyond Melbourne’s urban centre where creativity finds expression through co-designed research, events and cross-sector partnerships.

Visit the Creative Agency website.

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Anne Harris
Associate Professor and Principal Research Fellow, Design and Social Context
School: Education

+61 3 9925 4459
RMIT staff profile
anne.harris@rmit.edu.au

Dr Anne M. Harris, PhD is an Associate Professor and Vice Chancellor’s Principal Research Fellow at RMIT University, and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow (2017 – 2021) studying intercultural creativity. Anne is an Honorary Research Fellow at University of Nottingham (UK) and an Adjunct Professor at Monash University (Australia).

Their research is in the areas of gender, creativity, diversity, performance and emerging digital ethnographies. Anne is a native New Yorker and has worked professionally as a playwright, teaching artist and journalist in the USA and Australia. They have authored or co-authored over 60 articles and 13 books on creativity, arts, and non-dominant culture formations, the latest being Queering Families/​Schooling Publics: Keywords (with Stacy Holman Jones, Sandra Faulkner, and Eloise Brook, Routledge 2017). Anne is the creator and series editor of the Palgrave book series Creativity, Education and the Arts, and recently completed an Australian Research Council DECRA on the commodification of creativity.

Developing Game Regions

Exploring regional growth in game cultures and gaming industries in Vietnam

The Developing Games Regions project aims to establish games industry connections and research partners within SE Asia-Oceania. As a thriving sector in SE Asia, this project explores gaming industries in Vietnam. Over 33.9 million people play games in Vietnam, but little is known about these game cultures. RMIT is in a unique position to cultivate enduring relationships with Vietnamese gaming industries as research partners, and cross-institutional scholarship by connecting with leading games experts in SE Asia. Strengthening relationships between RMIT Melbourne/​Vietnam, local industries and regional expertise enhances the potential to address the Vietnamese games industry as an emerging market for production and play.

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Emma Witkowski
Senior Lecturer, Digital Design Cluster
School: Games

+61 3 9925 4756
Personal website
emma.witkowski@rmit.edu.au

Dr Emma Witkowski is the Director for Playable Media and a Lecturer in the School of Media and Communication. As the Program Manager for the Bachelor of Games Design degree, Witkowski teaches theoretical units on Game Cultures and Game Studies.

Witkowski received her PhD in Game Studies in 2012 from the IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark, taking a qualitative exploration of networked high performance play, considered through a lens of sociology and phenomenology, sports and game studies. She has been working in the field of computer game cultures since 2005, the same year she co-founded the Danish state and privately funded initiative Letzplay, a project aimed at increasing young women’s access to ICT’s and computer gaming knowledge.

Her current research looks at various aspects of computer game cultures, including high performance networked teamplay, esports, gender and games and serious leisure practices. She has written and presented on topics such as identity and play, livestreaming and spectatorship, Mega-LANs, running aesthetics, and the phenomenology of high-performance networked teams.

The Exchange at Knowledge Market

Prototyping community engagement in Melbourne’s Docklands Precinct

Knowledge Market is a creative hub for sharing ideas. Since its inception in 2016, it has hosted inspirational mentors and facilitators and fostered many new creative projects and partnerships. The Exchange at Knowledge Market is the next phase in the evolution of this innovation space. 

The Exchange explores the concept of community and new ways of understanding the shared urban environment through a curated series of public workshops, exhibitions, forums and community events. This year-long living lab is a space created by the community for the community. 

Visit the Knowledge Market website.

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Ross Mcleod
Program Manager, Design Innovation and Technology
School: Architecture and Urban Design

+61 3 9925 3493
RMIT staff profile
ross.mcleod@rmit.edu.au

Ross McLeod is Program Manager of Design Innovation and Technology at RMIT University, Melbourne. Over the past twenty years Ross has worked as both a designer and as an academic, completing a wide range of one-off and production furniture designs, interior architecture projects, exhibitions designs and sculptural works both locally and internationally.

As a designer, educator and academic he is committed to the development and realisation of design projects, teaching practices and research activities that extend the boundaries of contemporary design and the sensibilities that surround it. His experience in the fields of product design, furniture design, interior design and architecture have been instrumental in the establishment of a creative practice that spans the design disciplines.

News and updates

18.05.2018

Being Wiradjuri Together – Winner 2018 Good Design Award, Social Impact

An interactive Wiradjuri-RMIT project is among the winners in the social impact category at the 2018 Good Design Awards. Read more

21.03.2018

WrICE Program Partners with Leading Asian Literary Centre

RMIT’s Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange Program (WrICE), now in its fifth year, will partner with the Jakarta Post Writing Center in 2018. Read more

People

Marnie Badham
Art

Dr Marnie Badham is a socially-engaged artist-researcher in Canada and Australia. Her participatory methodologies engage communities in questions of place, identity and cultural value. As Vice Chancellor’s Post Doctoral Research Fellow, School of Art, her current research The Social Life of Artist Residencies: engaging with people and places not your own examines themes of hospitality, exchange and dislocation. Marnie lectures in Art in Public Space, publishes her scholarly writing extensively, and practices through residencies, exhibition curation and community-based collaborations. Her 2015 book Making Culture Count: the politics of cultural measurement (Palgrave) extended her doctoral research on democratised forms of evaluation.

Olivia Guntarik
Media and Communication

Dr Olivia Guntarik is interested in the relationship between people, places and technologies. She has co-designed and curated place-based cultural walking trails with Indigenous community groups, using mobile apps as self-guided digital tour guides, and as a way to commemorate sites of historical significance. She has led numerous industry-based research projects that bring together writers, artists, designers and digital experts with geographers, sociologists, ethnographers and educators. She was awarded two distinguished Creative Victoria funding initiatives, co-supported through the Department of Education and Training under the Virtual Creative Professionals in Schools program, to provide schools in rural and regional locations with the highest quality creative and digital learning experiences. Research outcomes included the development of interactive mobile apps and site-specific public installations, providing new ways to document and understand user engagement, participation and impact.

Laurene Vaughan
Design

Professor Laurene Vaughan is Dean of the School of Design at RMIT. She is internationally recognised as a leader in interdisciplinary and applied design research and pedagogy. Professor Laurene Vaughan has a diverse research and teaching practice covering the areas of design, communication, fashion and embedded research in diverse industry sectors. Laurene currently also contributes to the University research community through being a Research Leader in the RMIT Design Research Institute.

Son Vivienne
Education

Son Vivienne is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Creative Agency and the Digital Ethnography Research Centre at RMIT. Their principal expertise is digital self-representation, online activism, queer identity, and rhetorical strategies/​feminist practices for speaking and listening across difference. Son is also involved in community development and arts as an activist, workshop facilitator and media-maker. Son is author of Digital Identity and Everyday Activism: Sharing Private Stories with Networked Publics (Palgrave Macmillan) and co-​author/​co-​editor of Negotiating Digital Citizenship: Control, Contest, Culture (Rowman & Littlefield).

Son curates several collective storytelling websites for queer and gender-diverse communities and has over twenty years of multi-media production and distribution experience. As an award winning writer/​director/​producer of drama and documentaries, they tackled subjects as diverse as youth suicide; drug cultures in Vietnamese communities; and lesbian personal columns. Their film work includes multi-lingual (Vietnamese-English and Adnyamathanha-English) and multi-modal (animation, micro-docs, digital storytelling and interactive web-platforms) projects that reflect their comparative, cross-cultural and critical approaches to communication and storytelling.