International Research Center for Cultural Studies (IFK), Vienna
Linz University of Art and Design
The philosophy of the IFK International Research Center for Cultural Studies, University of Art and Design Linz is founded on the principles of clarity, communication and interdisciplinary exchange. The transparency of its organizational structure is not an end in itself, but aims to let visiting scholars and future academics make contact with one other. Centers such as the IFK make it possible to pursue one's own academic projects away from the workaday routine of the university. They offer the opportunity -- seldom available in universities -- of exchanging views in discussion groups and conversations, of developing new ideas and of testing out plans for future projects.
The free exchange of ideas between specialists in different subject areas is, however, not just a prerequisite of innovative research. In the academic world it usually encounters a certain resistance in established disciplines which have developed their own specific terminologies which cannot be easily translated. The success of our center depends on the creation of a communicative milieu in which questions common to diverse disciplines can be exchanged. In this way we can understand, for example, to what degree the pictorial worlds of the natural sciences are governed by aesthetic norms; how the tradition of philosophical anthropology relates to the empirical results of the new biosciences; how currents in globalization precipitate out in town planning and popular culture; or why a different understanding of evidence applies in legal proceedings to that for the observer of photographs. The dynamic of the exchange will ideally create not just new views which extend beyond those one brings from one's own subject area, but also elements of a common language and conceptual framework. When the potential of methods and concepts in contexts which initially appear to be foreign is put to the test, new horizons of knowledge can be created.