FIMS projects supported by the Strategic Priorities Funding program

July 2022

FIMS faculty members working on three research projects have been awarded new funding through Western University’s Strategic Priorities Fund. Three rounds of funding announcements were made this past year, representing an overall investment by the university of $20 million.

Results from Round 3 were released in June 2022 and include two projects headed up by FIMS researchers. Professors Alissa Centivany, Alison Hearn, Joanna Redden and Luke Stark were successful applicants to establish a FIMS Western Centre for Digital Justice and Democracy, while Professor Isola Ajiferuke received approval to run a Library and Information Science summer school for early career African scholars and university librarians. Results from Round 2 were publicized during the Winter 2022 term. FIMS Professor Sarah Smith (CRC in Art, Culture and Global Relations) and Professor Kristy Robertson (Visual Arts) submitted a successful proposal to develop teaching and sharing strategies for sustainability in the Museums Sector.

SPF awards are one-time funding, and it is expected that the projects will be carried out over the next 1 to 2 years.

FIMS/Western Centre for Digital Justice and Democracy

Big cityscape overlaid by a gridFinancial support from the Strategic Priorities Fund will allow FIMS Professors Alissa Centivany, Alison Hearn, Joanna Redden and Luke Stark to begin the process of establishing a new research centre dedicated to addressing the impacts of an increasingly datafied society. With artificial intelligence, automated decision-making, and data collection systems all being increasingly integrated into our daily lives, the Centre would seek to research the technologies and their societal impacts, share knowledge both on campus and with the wider London community, and prompt critical discussions about how to ensure a more just, equitable and humane datafied future.

“The new centre will help put Western, and London, at the forefront of global conversations around digital automation and its impacts,” said Professor Stark. “Londoners are already grappling with these technologies in their day-to-day live, and one of our aims is build networks between scholars at FIMS and at other faculties, and with citizen experts in the community. It’s imperative we respond collectively to the use and abuse of these technologies."

Library and Information Science Summer School for African Scholars

Large library with many books on shelvesDelayed for a number of years by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Library and Information Science summer school for early career African scholars will roll out in-person in August 2023. FIMS Professor Isola Ajiferuke will coordinate the program, expected to run for two years. The first year will be financially supported by the Faculty of Information and Media Studies, and in 2024, SPF funding will support an expanded program. Initially, 15 visiting academic librarians from across Africa will spend a week working with 10 local MLIS students or graduates, providing an opportunity for knowledge exchange. The following year, a larger number of visiting librarians will be accepted and the program length will be increased to two weeks.

“The 2023 program will focus on bibliometric and research impact services while the 2024 program will invite about 20-25 new faculty members from LIS schools in Africa and focus on appropriate use of statistics in library and information science research. The running of the summer school in subsequent years will depend on receiving new grants,” said Professor Ajiferuke.

Teaching and Sharing Strategies for Sustainability in the Museums Sector

Man looking at art in a museumProfessors Sarah Smith and Kirsty Robertson will apply SPF funding to the development of resources focused on sustainability for local artist centres and the wider museum field. As educators and storytellers, museums are a critical source of information for the public about the climate emergency, waste, clean water, renewable energy and circular economics. But museums themselves can be above average energy users with a large carbon footprint. Connected to the recently established Centre for Sustainable Curating (housed in the Department of Visual Arts, Faculty of Arts & Humanities), the project will engage students in relevant programs and will generate sharable materials to train upcoming generations of curators and museum workers.