The ERCC is an interdisciplinary research unit that asks big-picture questions about the present, its pasts, and our possible futures. We take as our leading question, ‘What does it mean to be human in the 21st century?’

About the research unit

Contemporary notions of reason, imagination, literature, Nature, sexuality, science, democracy, and even the Human were forged by Enlightenment and Romantic thought.

Yet this inheritance now seems threatened, paradoxically, by developments it has helped engineer and with which it is still entwined: the digital revolution, globalisation, climate change, fake news, and the emergence of artificial intelligence.

At the same time, the currents of European thought, which once seemed (at least to some) correspondent with the progress of history, now belong to a world where Europe is only one centre amongst many.

What is to be done?

Our vision and purpose

In this volatile environment, the ERCC conducts high quality, internationally relevant research into myriad aspects of the history and literature of European and non-European Enlightenments, Romanticisms and contemporary culture, to inform public discourse, strengthen civic engagement and contribute to a better world.

We interrogate dominant notions of Enlightenment and Romanticism, and their ambiguous historical legacies; work to bring European and non-European traditions into dialogue with each other; and create new understandings of person-formation, historical complexity and global plurality, while also exploring their implications for critical scholarship, public discourse, civic imagination, and education.

Working in partnership with scholars from across the disciplines, with industry, government, community groups, and learners of every age, we learn from each other to find common themes and approaches to the question of what it means to be human in the contemporary world.

How we work

The ERCC fosters research that is at once historically engaged and profoundly of the moment. It engages diverse disciplines and stakeholders in order to think differently about how to solve contemporary problems in new ways.

Our work proceeds from an awareness of place. Located in the Indo-Pacific region, Melbourne has been shaped by indigenous, settler, and migrant communities. As a site of local, national, regional, and global connectedness, it offers an unparalleled opportunity to address, from fresh perspectives, matters of local and global concern.

Our postgraduate program

The ERCC postgraduate program supports high-quality postgraduate and postdoctoral research experiences in areas relevant to the ERCC. We offer mentoring and research support schemes, career development initiatives, and networking opportunities. Graduate researchers affiliated with the ERCC have the chance to become part of a lively postgraduate community and an active part of the research unit through tailored postgraduate events and other research initiatives.

The ERCC aims to provide a supportive and collegial environment for students as they develop their individual research trajectories and progress from Honours to postgraduate to early career researcher level.

The ERCC acknowledges the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung Peoples of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the unceded land on which the University stands, and pays respect to the Elders past, present and emerging.

Banner image credit: Es Devlin, Memory Palace (detail), 2019, courtesy of the artist.