Dialogue: The Political Economies of Research

2:45 pm, Friday, November 2, 2012
With Sara Diamond and Pamela Jennings.

In a broad sense, agendas for research development are often shaped by political and economic forces external to art and design institutions.  Criticisms of the arts and humanities, policies geared toward economic development, and evaluations based on the instrumental value of research create familiar tensions and fault lines within our faculties and research communities.  We are interested in investigating both the present state and the future possibilities of this political–economic landscape with a focus on its implications for the advocacy and funding of research in art and design.

Sara Diamond is the President of OCAD University, Canada’s “university of the imagination”. She holds a PhD in Computer Science and degrees in new media theory and practice, social history and communications. She is an appointee of the Order of Ontario and the Royal Canadian Society of Artists. While retaining OCAD University’s traditional strengths in art and design, Diamond has guided the university in becoming a leader in digital media, design research and curriculum through the Digital Futures Initiative, new research in Inclusive Design, health and design, as well as in sustainable technologies and design. She also played a leading role in OCAD University’s establishment of the unique Aboriginal Visual Culture Program. These initiatives have built strong partnerships for OCAD University with science, business and communities, in Ontario and abroad.

Sara was the Artistic Director of Media and Visual Art and Director of Research at the Banff Centre, where she created the Banff New Media Institute (BNMI) in 1995 and led it until 2005. Her book (with Sarah Cook) Euphoria & Dystopia: The Banff New Media Dialogues, a history of the boom, bust and reset years of the first wave of digital media is currently available; published by Banff Centre Press and Riverdale Architectural Press, University of Waterloo.

Pamela L. Jennings is the Director of the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Centers for Research and Collaboration at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). The Shapiro Center was established to support the development of sponsored research opportunities and partnerships with civic, academic and corporate entities. Jennings is a former National Science Foundation Program Officer. She managed the NSF CreativeIT and co-managed the Human Centered Computing programs. Jennings’ research in cyberphysical systems for new game, learning, and design platforms includes the development of mixed-reality systems using wireless sensor networks. Her projects are informed by critical theories of technology, discourse analysis, and theories of the public sphere with the premise that advanced technologies and complex systems can be the anchor of interactive experiences that are catalyst for discourse, discovery, and change.

Pamela received funding from the National Science Foundation; Alberta Informatics Circle of Research Excellence; Rockefeller Foundation; New York State Council on the Arts, Carnegie Mellon University and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She completed her Ph.D. in Human Centered Systems Design and Digital Media, University of Plymouth, UK; M.F.A. in Computer Art, School of Visual Arts, NYC; M.A. in Studio Art, International Center of Photography/New York University Program; and B.A. in Psychology, Oberlin College. Pamela is enrolled in the Executive MBA program at the University of Michigan anticipated completion in 2013.