Since its inception in 1859 the Brighton School of Art has helped create a focal point for creative enquiry and cultural analysis. Today, researchers across the university both identify and question many of the central issues of cultural identity and innovation facing us in an increasingly complex and fragile world.
In photography concepts of place and space and how people fit into them have been explored through approaches that borrow from other disciplines, including social anthropology, cultural geography, politics and philosophy.
In design and sustainability, there is a similar focus on how design can fit the social context, how it can enhance wellbeing and how consumers interact with it. In the field of sustainability one of the major developments has been the formation of the university's Centre for Sustainability in the Built Environment which looks at the lifecycle and environmental performance of buildings.
In fine art, the focus has again been on relationships – between art, curator and consumer – and looks at how art can be used for regenerating public spaces and creating a sense of social inclusion. For example, public sculptures have engaged and stimulated the collective imagination of local communities.
In cultural heritage, a major development has been the creation of Excellence in Processing Open Cultural Heritage (EPOCH), a European network whose main purpose is to bring together academic research and cultural institutions to see how the quality and effectiveness of digital technologies in the cultural heritage sector can be improved.
The creative industries, particularly in relation to digital technologies, are assuming an increasing importance in the UK’s economy. Brighton's researchers have both contributed to this in their work and studied the impact of the creative industries. A particular interest is the convergence between the knowledge economy, media education and the creative industries. Research on user-generated content and Wikipedia, for instance, looks at how students can be properly educated to question the information they find on the internet.
The university has also developed specialist scholarly resources, including the Design Archives which are involved in a series of museum partnerships.
Fashion photograph, 1960s John French © V&A Images