FOR TRANSDISCIPLINARY, LIBERAL ARTS AND CREATIVE TECHNOLOGIES RESEARCH
1.Scope of the EKPHRASIS Center
To create a cross-disciplinary research environment, bringing together academic and professional resources of specialists from diverse fields at the intersection of the humanities and social sciences, who can carry out applied studies in innovative areas such as new creative industries, new media and other liberal arts. This approach is all the more important as new digital and visual technologies have permeated society in a way that profoundly affects our existence and produces major social, psychological, human and relational changes. Thus the interdisciplinary study of these new realities and the resulting innovative cultural products must be the main focus of activity for a dedicated Research Centre.
We believe that contemporary academic studies must take into account the development of communication technologies and the expansion of the areas of interest in society to include experiences generated by new media. That is why the Ekphrasis Centre aims to set an example for transdisciplinary studies and their convergence with the development of creative technologies. The Ekphrasis Centre is open to all academics at Babeș-Bolyai University who adhere to the common objectives of the Centre.
2. Preamble on the current situation in the academic and professional environment
Today we are talking about socio-technological systems that have an undeniable human, cultural, political and industrial impact. The relationship between these innovative technologies and society, their interaction, and the human and social impact of media based on online platforms must be understood in an academic context.
First of all, we must start from an institutional necessity – the establishment of a Research Centre dedicated to the fields of liberal arts and creative technologies or to the various manifestations of multiple visual media in society stems from the fact that, although 60 research centres and institutes operate in the Babeș-Bolyai University, the study of new creative technologies, new and old media cultures as a whole and, especially, the application of studies in the specific field of liberal arts studies is underrepresented.
Since the founding of the famous New School for Social Research in the 1940s in the United States, the field generically called liberal studies has been one of the most important sources of knowledge and innovation in the academic world. An interdisciplinary approach, combining the social sciences and humanities in general, which offers the possibility to develop large-scale studies through trans-disciplinary approaches, is imperative. And the possibility of integrating art (photography, advertising, visual design) with the political sciences, of linking the artistic or aesthetic dimension with the cultural or cultural studies dimension and, in particular, the relationship between multiple areas of knowledge must be linked in a coherent approach.
Although today all American universities offer similar programs, and more than half of European universities have such studies (in countries such as Hungary, Poland or even Bulgaria), in Romania there is no program dedicated to the study of creative technologies in the context of liberal arts.
At the convergence of classical humanities and innovative studies, such an interdisciplinary effort is necessary not only because new media are everyday realities. We are now witnessing forms of content production that combine modes of creativity that integrate multimedia technologies; our students want to acquire skills from the performing arts that they can couple with computer-generated forms of expression; we are witnessing 3D audio-visual productions, the making of gaming design, software and interactive games, as well as writing for interactive narrative, visual media studies and interactive multimedia, new media and contemporary arts.
3. Mission of the EKPHRASIS Centre
Babeș-Bolyai University is currently well represented in terms of majors in the humanities as well as in all sciences. The mission of the Ekphrasis Centre is to bring together as many of these research directions as possible in a single team, as well as to bring together the resources of several specializations and areas of teaching and research from all the faculties of Babeș-Bolyai University.
The main result of the Centre is to stimulate excellence in transdisciplinary research by involving professors and researchers of high educational, academic and professional competence in joint projects. The Centre will also bring together young researchers who want to achieve scientific performance in innovative areas. By involving all these experienced specialists and the younger generation, we want to carry out topical projects, which will lead to an increase in the level of knowledge, research and academic competence required by a University of international prestige. Another secondary aim is to identify new forms of teaching and research that are innovative and generate ideas for improving the higher education system in Romania, as well as synchronizing it with the most innovative directions of study in the European and global academic system. The most elusive objective in all contemporary sciences, which is a goal of Ekphrasis Centre members, is the critical understanding of current phenomena and manifestations.
Last but not least, the Ekphrasis Centre aims to collaborate with specialists in the field of creative technologies, offering them conceptual, theoretical and knowledge support for the realisation of competitive products in a dynamic market.
The Ekphrasis Centre will operate according to the regulations and provisions of the Babeș-Bolyai University, as a part of the STARR-UBB Institute. The Centre will set up its own administrative base and manage its own infrastructure. The Centre will have a college like management, composed of a Director elected by a vote of all its members and a Scientific Council, composed of one representative of each specialization existing in UBB, working within the Centre.
The Centre encourages both academic research through participation in international and national competitions for grants and project funding, but also encourages involvement in practical partnerships with local, national and international community outreach.
The operating rules will detail the hierarchical structure (Director, Scientific Council, College of the Centre) and will describe the administrative tasks, regulate the internal and external relations of the Centre. This documentation will be drawn up at the first meeting of the College of the Centre.
5.Activities of the EKPRASIS Centre
Following the model of North American centres such as the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California, the Ekphrasis Centre’s overall objective is to combine research in related fields such as film, television, advertising and the computer games industry with practical activities in the fields researched.
Specifically, the Centre will be able to carry out research and creative activities in the field of all creative technologies, combining diverse forms of knowledge, from art and literature studies, to interactive media and online media science, from psychology and political studies to video production or 3D image production, from mobile communication systems to web services, animation or computer graphics, from traditional journalism to narrative in interactive and non-traditional environments.
Training courses for writing narratives in virtual environments, workshops for analysing and developing narrative structures in virtual worlds, as well as studying how to design narratives in various media specific to the creative industries.
Development of interdisciplinary programmes and research projects in the field of liberal arts and creative industries such as: animation, gaming design, interactive software and games, writing for interactive narrative, visual media and interactive multimedia studies, new media and performing arts, cinema and television studies, applied research in the area of new technologies.
Consultancy in areas such as visual communication, management of creative industries and management of online platforms. Organisation of programmes dedicated to related activities in the creative industries.
Refresher courses to improve critical thinking and communication skills in social media and new technology contexts.
Creation of new academic programmes and implementation of continuous training projects for young graduates from different fields working in the creative industries to obtain or certify interdisciplinary skills acquired non-formally. The Centre can provide specialised training, education and consultancy in areas not currently covered by the traditional education system.
Organisation of summer schools, seminars open to the public, meetings, conferences and other public communication activities. Editing and publishing the journal Ekphrasis: Images, Cinema, Theory, Media currently in CEEOL, ERIH, EBSCO databases.
Organisation of competitions, festivals, workshops and master classes allowing interaction with specialists in similar fields, benchmarking of one’s own development, acquisition of new skills and competences in the use of complex digital software and integration of new means of expression in cross-media productions.
Collaboration with other similar centres at home and abroad.
The production and development of commercial and profit-generating projects as well as non-commercial productions that contribute to the national recognition and international recognition of EKPRASIS.
Stimulating the association of public and private institutions, in the form of consortia or associations, to establish a common base and a high-level infrastructure for studies and results.
The Centre will be oriented towards the current needs of the creative industries community and will integrate in its activities any areas of interest of professionals in the field.
The members of the EKPRASIS Centre are nationally and internationally recognised researchers with achievements in various fields of scientific research, their previous achievements as reflected in their biographies and publication lists. In the future, the Centre will also be able to welcome post-doctoral researchers, other specialists in the field from foreign universities and professionals from the creative industries.