Aiming to encourage and support research in the sciences and humanities, the institute’s purpose is to contribute towards changing the way we understand the world’s complexity by fostering academic knowledge that is critical, interdisciplinary, and international.
The Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies will harness the world-leading and internationally-recognised research taking place across the university as well as bringing together current and future academic leaders through its fellowship programme. Based at the university’s Westminster School of Media, Art and Design at the Harrow Campus in London, the institute will be led by Professor Christian Fuchs, Professor of Social Media and Director of the Communication and Media Research Institute at the University.
“The Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies is a key development in enhancing our ability to conduct and deliver research with originality, significance and a critical impact on the global society, said Geoffrey Petts, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Westminster.
He added: “It addresses the need for interdisciplinary exchange, collaboration, learning and research and plays a key role in achieving our 2020 strategy that sets out to enhance our world-leading interdisciplinary research activity.”
The Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies stands for three ‘I’s: interdisciplinary, internationality, and intellectual engagement in the public
Prof Christian Fuchs, Director of the Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies, added: “The Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies stands for three ‘I’s: interdisciplinary, internationality, and intellectual engagement in the public. It provides an exciting opportunity for international and interdisciplinary co-operation beyond borders.
“Our inaugural research theme ‘Critical Digital and Social Media Research’ aims to better understand how digital and social media – such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and Wikipedia – as well as cloud computing, big data and free and open source software, can change our society. This area tends to be oversimplified, neglecting the complexity of interactions between digital media and society. Our research will question the role of digital and social media in society, the economy, politics, and culture. In order to do so, we need to ask critical questions and develop new research methods and theories.”
Among the research projects that the Institute will be involved with is the EU project ‘netCommons: Network Infrastructure as Commons’. This brings together social scientists, computer scientists and legal scholar from Italy, France, Spain, Greece and the UK to study Internet infrastructure and community networks in Europe, contributing to the development of key themes for Internet Science.
The institute complements the University of Westminster’s new recruitment drive to appoint seven internationally-renowned professors to dedicate to interdisciplinary research.