The Centre for
Centre for 21st Century Humanities

About us

The Centre for 21st Century Humanities brings together leading University of Newcastle researchers. It promotes high quality humanities research, using new methods for the new century.  Our vision is that by 2025 the University of Newcastle will be a world leader in humanities research.

Upcoming event

Public talk: Artificial intelligence and the future of humanity

We stand on the brink of a revolution in Artificial Intelligence that will transform our world. What will this mean for our future society and culture? Join us for a panel discussion of experts on this urgent topic on Thursday 19th September, 4pm - 6pm at the Hunter Room, Newcastle City Hall. Read more and book your seat.


Colonial Frontier Massacres Map

More than 250 Aboriginal massacres that occurred during the spread of pastoral settlement in Australia are documented in the online Colonial Frontier Massacres Map, created by a team led by Professor Lyndall Ryan.

Time Layered Cultural Map

The Centre for 21st Century Humanities is leading the development of a powerful software platform called the ‘Time-Layered Cultural Map of Australia’ (TLCMap). Funded by a 2019 $420,000 ARC LIEF grant, the TLCMap will allow humanities researchers to build digital maps with pathways and search the data held in different Australian repositories by location and time and compile new data sets.

Dictionary of Newcastle

The digital Dictionary of Newcastle will bring the city’s historical archives online. It will provide a reliable and searchable source of historical knowledge on Newcastle past as it relates to coal and other forms of employment and culture.

Read more about other Centre for 21st Century Humanities projects.

The Centre for 21st Century Humanities fosters research that investigates human agency in our past, present and future.  An era of unprecedented human impact on the world and the rise of new digital technologies opens new questions about what it means to be human today. The Centre offers a forum for the creation of new knowledge for turbulent times and brings together areas of the humanities where the University of Newcastle has significant strength, namely:

  • Digital humanities, where humanities scholarship engages directly with digital technologies
  • The history of violence, which initiates a new field (Violence Studies) and offers exceptional opportunities for working across disciplines;
  • Social research services in the areas of primary industry development; generational health issues in rural areas; risk and engagement for major projects; and local government shared learning frameworks;
  • The materialist history of the book and of women's writing; and
  • Language theory, documentation and application, focusing on endangered languages in our region.

Digital Research Methods

Our expertise in this area includes work in online research collections, language analysis and digital mapping. We believe the combination of the deep understanding of culture in the humanities combined with digital tools and materials has applications outside academic disciplines. We are interested in developing partnerships with agencies and businesses in tourism, defence, and publishing, with Indigenous corporations and Land Councils, and with anyone who needs to deal with large amounts of written material.

Within the academy, we are pursuing new opportunities including applying methods from computational stylistics to analyse large collections of historical documents. Network analysis has applications across all our fields, from Napoleon to Stalin, and from 16th century English women writers to the 21st century workplace. Geographic Information Systems, helping see data in spatial terms, applies across the board. Visualisation through statistics and new presentation techniques can bring striking new insights in all corners of the humanities.

Engagement & Impact

People everywhere are interested in history, in language, in ideology. This is where the humanities have scale and impact.  The humanities can contribute to Newcastle as a creative city, adding an element of historical and cultural knowledge to the mix, through events and displays and through entrepreneurship. The Centre has an Industry Advisory Board (PDF 120KB) made up of 12 members of the community, business leaders and members of the GLAM sector.

These pathways will link the work of the 21st Century Humanities to the wider public and thence to policy debates and government initiatives.


There are exciting opportunities for new insights through deep collaborations between the humanities and disciplines from health, bio-medicine, science and engineering. Centre members already have projects of this kind underway and the Centre is providing funding to incubate new ventures.