Filtering the Tides: an introduction to ‘Ocean Connections’, a new region leadership, care and design project.

The rapid and unequal development of Australia’s northern coastlines raises social, environmental and legal issues. Informed regional governance capacity is essential to the preservation of unique cultural and environmental ecologies. In the context of rapidly changing economic opportunities and strategic priorities, the Northern Territory is under pressure to reconnect to its oceanic neighbourhood, and to design the interfaces that will optimize sometimes conflicting goals of biodiversity, employment, amenity and sustainability.

What can and should the HASS (Humanities and Social Sciences) contribute to the better understanding of, and response to, these challenges of growth and transformation? ‘Ocean Connections’ explores the proposition that a key element in integrating the different but related demands of innovation and stewardship is the recognition of the role that placemaking stories play in producing creative or generative regions. Creativity, the invention and maintenance of symbolic systems that give meaning to human endeavour, is a vital tool of social innovation, political and institutional change and a diversified economy.

‘Ocean Connections’ embraces the suggestion that a reintegration of cultural heritage, cultural production and public planning is vital if sustainable regional development is to continue. However, by adding creativity to the toolkit of levers for improved wellbeing, it flags a methodological innovation. ‘Ocean Connections’ is project-based. That is, it pursues a transdisciplinary understanding of the cultures of fragile environments in the context of major infrastructural investments currently affecting Darwin Harbour.

In this introductory seminar the project leader Professor Paul Carter outlines the context, rationale and expectations of the project. Alluding to Francis Bacon’s foundational concept of knowledge as a filtration of nature, he discusses the boundary ecology of coastal knowledges and archipelagic connections that characterize our northern coastlines, and argues that a distributive model of knowledge growth and transfer, one that builds flux and reflux into the design of fragile environments is an important point of regional difference.

The seminar is an invitation to CDU’s community to participate in a transdisciplinary project whose goal is to tackle the ‘silo mentality’ that all too often disables specialist knowledge from entering the mainstream of public education and culture. An informed and creative regional citizenry is critical to the quality of public decision-making, and by fostering critical identifications with a history of coastal dreaming, acting and caring ‘Ocean Connections’ not only brings together different voices but invites us to think differently about what we know.


About Professor Carter

Professor Paul Carter is a visiting professor at The Northern Institute, CDU. He is also Professor of Design (Urbanism) at RMIT University (Melbourne). He has a long association with the NT, having worked in placemaking projects in both Darwin and Alice Springs. He is a public artist as well as writer and cultural theorist. He is well-known for such books as The Road to Botany Bay and for public artworks such as Nearamnew (at Federation Square, Melbourne). His new publication is Meeting Place: the Human Encounter and the Challenge of Coexistence (University of Minnesota Press, 2013). ‘Ocean Connections’ is a three year project and will vigorously seek external partners and ongoing funding beyond its present lifetime.

Filtering the Tides Seminar.pdf

Friday, April 12, 2013 - 10:30 to 12:00