Global Futures

Responding to global challenges and opportunities with real-world research.

The contemporary world is characterised by global upheaval resulting from the recrudescence of Great Power politics, nuclear proliferation, food insecurity, climate shocks, pandemic economic disruption, extremism, AI and data security concerns.

The Global Futures Platform applies rigorous thinking to the world’s most pressing challenges in international and intercultural relations, and pursues effective ways to create a safer, more just, globally connected world.

Global Futures engages public and private sectors, and works across Curtin’s global campuses, to build global and regional awareness and action through teaching and challenge-based learning, research and engagement activities.

The recent resetting of the iconic “Doomsday Clock” at 90 seconds to midnight is emblematic of the urgency of the task ahead.

Professor Joseph M. Siracusa, Dean, Global Futures

Global Futures Student Research

Analysing Virtual Influencers: Celebrity, Authenticity & Identity on Social Media 

PhD Student in the Curtin School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry, Rachel Berryman is exploring an emergent social media phenomenon known as “virtual influencers”. These fictitious characters are typically created with computer-generated animation, and are designed to accumulate audiences on social media, and promote messages or commercial partnerships.

Since 2016, both the number and popularity of virtual influencers have grown dramatically. Collaborations with large global brands have inspired the formation of companies specialising in virtual influencers production, and attracted millions of dollars in venture capital.

Working within Curtin’s Influencer Ethnography Research Lab IERLab, Rachel’s research combines methods including digital ethnography, interviews, and archival web and press research to explore the social media practices of virtual influencers, the intentions of their creators, and the organisation of the industry that surrounds them.  

“Virtual influencers are an essentially transnational object of research. Their origins trace back to technological innovations in Japan’s idol industry and Hollywood special effects in the 1990s. Nowadays, virtual influencers claim to live all over the world, and are particularly popular in markets across Asia and Latin America. My project aims to recognise the diverse national contexts in which virtual influencers operate, and applies an intentionally transnational and translingual methodological approach to understand their global evolution and impact.” 

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