Key takeaways

  • A UCLA-led project to foster connections among cultural, creative and technology sectors will facilitate a nationwide workshop series to gather ideas that connect research and innovation in the technology and creative sectors.
  • The workshops, supported by an award from the National Science Foundation, will guide planning for a national conference in December, hosted by UCLA.
  • UCLA’s yearlong Innovation, Culture, and Creativity project aims to support the competitiveness of America’s creative sector and expand and diversify the country’s STEM workforce.

UCLA’s Innovation, Culture, and Creativity project office, supported by the National Science Foundation’s directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships, or TIP, will fund a series of multidisciplinary regional workshops beginning this summer that bring together artists, institutions and people working in the creative and technology sectors to support research and innovation at the intersection of culture, creativity and technology. 

UCLA’s yearlong project hub, which launched in January with a  $1.3 million investment from the NSF, will support seven workshops in California, Hawaii, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, New York and Washington, D.C.. Participants include researchers and artists working with Indigenous knowledge, academics, nonprofit groups, museum curators, storytellers, urban planners, entertainment and performing arts professionals, designers, musicians, animators, artificial intelligence and extended reality developers and more. Workshops were selected through a panel review process after a call for proposals earlier this year. 

“These workshops will generate new networks and connections and support participants in different places across the country to think broadly about new types of innovation and R&D support,” said Jeff Burke, professor and associate dean of research and technology for the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, and principal investigator of the project. “The insights gained from these regional meetings will inform our national convening planned for December about how to better connect research and innovation in the technology and creative sectors.”

Jennifer Jacobs, UC Santa Barbara assistant professor in media arts and technology and computer science, is the project’s co-principal investigator. UCLA collaborators include Lauren Lee McCarthy, professor of design media arts at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture; Chris Johanson, chair of digital humanities and associate professor of classics; and Gregory Pottie, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering. The panel review and subaward process has been supported by the UCLA Office of Research and Creative Activities. The UCLA DataX initiative is providing additional support for activities in Los Angeles.

In December 2024, the national conference at UCLA will gather leaders and participants from these workshops, along with representatives from government, industry and nonprofit sectors.

The overarching goals of the Innovation, Culture, and Creativity project are to examine the role of regional culture in strengthening innovation ecosystems, support the continued competitiveness of America’s creative sector and develop new strategies to expand and diversify the country’s STEM workforce.

The regional workshop topics, locations and dates include:

  • Integrating Indigenous Knowledge and Creative Computational Media: Building a Sustainable Innovation Ecosystem in the Pacific Rim
    University of Hawaii at Mānoa, Kapolei, Hawaii; August 12-13
  • Inclusive Innovation: Engaging Creative Technologists for Advanced Technology Tools Research and Initiatives
    TEC Leimert, Los Angeles, Calif; August 17-18
  • Integrating Arts and Culture into Kansas City's Critical Materials and Biologics
    KC Digital Drive, Kansas City, Mo.; August 20-21
  • Design Justice: Using Design Justice Principles to Shift Power in the Creation of Community Technology in Detroit
    Design Justice Network, Detroit, Mich.; September 12-13 
  • Dreaming of Ethical Black Artificial Intelligence Ecosystems through Black Joy #BlackTechFutures Research Institute, Washington, D.C., September 13-14
  • Indigenous Pathways to Planning Sustainable Futures
    Creative Startups, Albuquerque, N.M., September 13-14
  • Developing Dramaturgical Strategies for AI and XR alongside NYC’s Contemporary Performance Scene
    Borough of Manhattan Community College, Brooklyn, N.Y., September 28-29

For more information on all projects and participants visit