'Cultural Studies' in the UK is a discipline with high self-reflexivity. Its practitioners are invested in a model of education that also functions as critique, a discipline that imparts via role modelling a practice of critical pedagogy. It is a discipline with a deep commitment to ethical forms of learning and observation, to a practice of knowledge that can engage with politics and power on the local, organisational, and global planes. It is perhaps the 'added value' of Cultural Studies that makes it so alive and contentious as a field, rather than teaching a canon (although there is one), it prefers instead to teach a modality of approach, an approach that is uniquely 'emotional' in character: it imbues students with principles of passion, curiosity, compassion, social justice, anger, empathy and critical wisdom. Cultural Studies as a discipline is steeped in ethics, it is a way to see and understand the world, rather than a bundle of information. These qualities are of course, not solely to be discovered here, but they are distinctively aggregated into the rich practice of Cultural Studies methodology.
Cultural Studies maps across the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, drawing down expertise from each. Investing in Cultural Studies has enabled some exciting collaborations however, for example we can look to current European funding initiatives (such as FP7 UPDATE: Marie Curie Actions) to see how much value is placed upon examining social and cultural networks, and gaining an advanced understanding of the cross-disciplinary complexity of cultural practice, identity, consumption and politics. Both the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council have targeted schemes for the analysis of culture from interdisciplinary perspectives in recent years. Cultural Studies is ideally placed to make better use of these funding initiatives - the broader research context is moving toward ever more collaborative and ethical initiatives based in priorities intended to create better communications inter- and intra-societally. Ethical research is becoming more and more imperative, with a renewed interest in moral context, usability and dissemination, so called 'joined-up thinking'; these are all aspects of Cultural Studies that have been refined and developed over forty years.
Culture has to be understood as a 'whole way of life' as Raymond Williams described it back in 1971, he was one of the pioneers to see the radical importance of understanding the ordinary, the brilliant convolution and intricacy of the mundane. We see now the necessity of paying attention to all levels of human experience, and sometimes in painful ways.
Cultural Studies online list
CULTSTUD-L began life in January 1996 as an online discussion list for a graduate seminar in Contemporary Cultural Studies offered by the Department of Communication at the University of South Florida. When the course ended, there was enough interest in continuing the list to merit opening it up to a broader group of participants. Today, CULTSTUD-L has more than 1600 subscribers from over 40 different countries.