Humanities could give Australia innovation edge

In the age of FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google) where the whole world is competing on the same stage, Humanities research could give Australia the edge in innovation.

Humanities strategist and Griffith Review founding editor, Professor Julianne Schultz AM FAHA, says the dramatic transformation of society that is taking shape in the era of FAANG is grounded in technological tools, but is dependent on culture.

“Innovation is the new national buzzword. Most people understand that as a pseudonym for technology. As head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Dr Martin Parkinson said recently, ‘We tend to think of innovation as being done by start-ups or people in white coats, but it’s much more than that. By and large our greatest gains have come from building a culture that adapts and diffuses the ideas of others.’”

“Humanities have been sidelined in this process at institutional and national levels, but are essential. There is a need to reassert the unique contribution of the cultural sector to making innovation real and meaningful, to find new language to describe it,” she says.

“The companies leading this transformation rarely sell technology, they make their money from making meaning – the stuff of culture, humanities and the arts. We need to learn new ways of stepping forward.”

Schulz, Chair of the Australian Film TV and Radio School, will be among top Australian and international humanities, arts and social sciences (HASS) researchers when they meet at ‘The Public Humanities’ in Adelaide next week. The event is co-sponsored by the Australian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres Public Humanities (ACHRC), Flinders University and the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.

The ACHRC program reflects the impact HASS is having countrywide through Humanities Outreach programs like the Zest Festival, the Treasured Possessions Exhibition, and Public History projects.

Schultz will deliver a public lecture entitled “Culture in the Age of Innovation” at Hetzel Theatre, Institute Building, State Library of South Australia, on Thursday, 10 November 2016.


Media contact: Erika von Kaschke,; tel +61 (0)409 205 654.