The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) has been lauded as the top art and design university in Australia by the QS rankings, which points to its distinctive social and political angle on blockchain research.
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The RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub describes itself as “the world’s first research center on the social science of blockchain.” It provides a meeting ground for academics in the fields of economics as well as sociology, public policy and political economy.
The hub has busied itself establishing partnerships with the titans of industry both in the technology sphere and in the realm of consulting. They include IBM, Amazon Web Services, Oracle, Deloitte and EY. To engage with the social and political impacts of blockchain, the hub also partners with nonprofits such as the Blockchain Philanthropy Foundation and government branches including the Australian Department of Industry.
The hub provides academic support for ground-breaking projects undertaken in the industry. For example, its researchers have helped to gather data from the pilot of Civic Ledger’s blockchain peer-to-peer water-trading platform Water Ledger – which aims to make industrial water trading more efficient.
In a testament to the interest of RMIT in the lateral implications of blockchain, Professor Ellie Rennie of the media and communication department is currently working on a project called “Cooperation Through Code: The Social Outcomes of Blockchain Technology.” She supervises PhD research in the field of media.
RMIT is unusual, too, in offering entire degrees in blockchain-enabled business, at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. In addition, courses available to students more widely include “Blockchain and Cryptofinance,” “Blockchain App Smart Contracts” and “Establish Blockchain Supply Chain.”
Outside the university, Australia’s crypto and blockchain scene has been growing. The managing director of Kraken Australia, Jonathan Miller, said in 2021, “The Australian market is key to achieving global adoption.” Global crypto businesses like Gemini and Binance have joined Kraken in building Australian operations in recent years, a sign of swelling local interest.