Research Theme Fellow: Urban Living Futures & Society

Dr Kylie Budge

School of Humanities and Communication Arts

Dr Kylie Budge is Senior Research Fellow for Urban Living Futures and Society at Western Sydney University. She is a cultural geographer and ethnographer researching the intersection between people, technology and society, with a particular interest in creativity.

Kylie has worked in the higher education sector in both Australia and Japan and has extensive knowledge in the fields of art, design, education, and communication. She holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne focusing on creative practice and the teaching of art and design in higher education.

Kylie researches the creative city phenomenon, an international field of research that looks at how cities generate creativity. “I do this by exploring the ways in which creative producers (such as artists and designers), cultural audiences, and social media contribute to the development of physical and online spaces,” she explains. “I have a real interest in the kind of communities that generate around creative production.” Her current work looks at the value of makerspaces for creative producers and their communities, seeking to understand the factors that foster experimentation, and the connection between creative spaces in cities and innovation.

Kylie previously worked in the galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM) sector. After observing the media’s moral panic over young people’s apparent lack of interest in exhibitions due to mobile phone use, she sought to better understand these spatial interactions. Kylie conducted individual and collaborative research that analysed public geotagging data from Instagram to examine audience-generated text and image responses to cultural institutions. The findings showed that people have a deep appreciation for exhibition content, as well as the spaces in which they are surrounded. Place-making, sense-making and identity are a key part of what occurs through Instagram in such environments.

Since her appointment to Senior Research Fellow in mid-2017, Kylie’s aims have been to explore cross-disciplinary research opportunities bridging the creative, cultural, and business sectors. “For example, we’re interested in the sharing economy and how it manifests in makerspaces and co-working spaces in cities,” Kylie says. “Cross-disciplinary research is important because there are so many complex problems that cities face, and no individual academic discipline can solve them alone. When you put together areas of knowledge that don’t normally speak to each other, you allow the different angles to build towards the unexpected solutions we really need.”

Kylie says the University’s focus on external collaboration with government and industry partners means research can home in on the real issues at hand. “Western really rebuts the ivory tower cliché of academia because we are continually outward looking. We’re bringing in the people who are at the coalface of that activity, and creating research that is of value to them.”

As well as teaching Design Histories and Futures, and Media Memory in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts, Kylie is also a member of the Institute for Culture and Society. She also serves on the Advisory Board of the Australasian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres.