Social change research makes sense of human progress, from the local scale to the global, enabling governments, businesses and communities to respond in ways that benefit and strengthen society.
Our research focuses on four key areas: health and social policy and practice; mobility, migration and security; digital transformations; and, work.
In the social sciences and humanities, impact is best understood as influencing a set of connections that we need to design into research and collaborations from the beginning, by listening to and working with collaborators outside universities.
While, for example, working on the beginnings of the Digital Asia Hub, a Hong Kong-based think tank incubated at Harvard University, we have seen how impact can be built into an international research network from the beginning, by involving a diverse group of academic, civil society, and private sector partners.
The research skills and competencies within this ECP can be applied to any sector or organisation, regardless of size or stage of development. The primary areas where our expertise will be directed are indicated below.
Research and innovation priorities
Transformations in health and social policy and practice
How can we understand and help shape possible futures for health and social support? This includes exploring:
- how to design the best quality service systems and infrastructure to meet the needs of individuals and communities, and
- how to contribute to new forms of primary intervention (for instance, in relation to gendered violence)
Transformations in mobility, migration and security
What are the economic, cultural and social implications of increasing global mobility and our changing experiences of place and displacement? This includes understanding:
- the impact relocation and migration has on social identities, networks and political communities, and
- how to improve public policies and practices in migration, settlement and related areas
Transformations in digital society and economy
What are the social, economic and cultural consequences of automation and digital transformations in industry, government and everyday life? This includes asking how to:
- improve digital inclusion
- stimulate an innovative and vibrant economy, and
- protect and extend users’ digital rights
Transformations in work
What are the consequences of the changing nature and political economy of work, income and employment in Australia and at the global level?
How can we improve working lives and wellbeing by opening up access to decent work opportunities?
Key application areas
- Community and social services
- Small and large NGOs
- Health, disability and aged care services
- Local, state, federal and international government
- Justice and legal insurance
- Migration and settlement services
- Technology and telecommunication industries
Local communities supporting people with disabilities
RMIT is partnering with local government and a service provider, community organisations, local businesses and residents to develop innovative ways of increasing the local community’s capacity to support and include people with disabilities. The collaboration is responding to the National Disability Insurance Scheme and aims to increase independence, social and community participation among people with disabilities. The researchers are using action-based research to co-design and test new, more inclusive community spaces. Around 100 local residents with disabilities are contributing to the research. Research outcomes will enable people with disabilities to become more active and included members of their local communities.
Digital Footscray Pop-up Lab
The Digital Footscray Pop-up Lab was a place-based pilot project that investigated community resilience, innovation and technology for social change. RMIT’s Digital Ethnography Research Centre delivered the collaborative research project in partnership with a local co-working community space in Footscray. The Lab was embedded in the community for six months to explore questions that matter to local people and organisations, with a focus on learning how they use digital technology. Data collected by the researchers is helping local organisations better meet the needs and aspirations of Footscray residents, including improving access to the public WiFi network for local community centre clients.