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Research Cluster for Digital Inequality and Social Change (RC-disc)

The Research Cluster for Digital Inequality and Social Change (RC-disc) is built on the research strength and interest of a multi-disciplinary research group focusing on:

  • Digital divide/inequality
  • ICT for development (ICT4D)
  • Antecedents of digital and social transformation
  • Socio-cultural impact of IT
  • Ethics, privacy, wellbeing and security
  • IT for marginalised and indigenous societies.

RC-disc departs from silo-based research at this critical juncture of the 21st century, when information and communication technologies (ICTs) are becoming more common with a crossover with other disciplines. We expect to contribute to the critical knowledge gap in the area and have significant direct and far-reaching societal benefits through several interventions.

Housed at the Faculty of Science and Technology, the cluster includes passionate researchers from different faculties of the University. We work in close collaboration and partnership with different international and relevant industry partners.

RC-disc comprises seasoned and mid-career researchers from diverse disciplines with complementary skills who bring unique experiences and expertise to the cluster The group is further strengthened by the participation and contribution of internationally renowned scholars as affiliate members (See members page). The cluster is led by Dr Ahmed Imran, who has 15 years of experience in ICT4D research with a proven track record of leadership in academia and beyond.


  • Build a critical mass of interdisciplinary experts on digital inequality and social change research.
  • Undertake research schemes and initiatives to deal with complex and emerging societal problems driven by ICT, applying a holistic (end to end) approach using cross-disciplinary lenses, perspectives and theories.
  • Build local, national and international networks for further collaboration and joint research in the area.

Alignment with UC’s Strategic Plan

RC-disc aligns with UC's strategic focus on cross-fertilisation between disciplines and addresses UC's strong commitment toward inequality, social justice and societal impact. We endeavour to promote an inclusive culture of cross-disciplinary collaboration, utilising UC's current strength to create a locally anchored global hub for knowledge transfer.

At UC, we have a unique opportunity to be a front runner, by exploiting opportunities and utilising its current expertise. Our research theme has strong synergy with UC and the faculty's strategic vision for global outreach, societal impact, and its aspiration to rank above the national average for engagement and impact measures.

Our research will reinforce and contribute to:

  • UC’s recent recognition as the world's top in rankings for reducing inequalities in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings
  • efforts to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Social and digital inequality in the 21st century

Over the years, ICT has become a strategic tool and a vital enabler of various development efforts and solutions with the largest potential impact on societies. Digital inequality has severe implications for widening the gap between the haves and have nots, whether in education, life expectancy or opportunity. The IT discipline itself has transformed with its strong relationship with many other fields. It now has a broad spectrum covering many critical issues for our society, such as ethics, inequality, leadership, governance and management.

In this information age of the 21st century, social inequality cannot be addressed without the growing challenges of digital inequality. The present world is too dependent on universities with a global focus to provide knowledge, wisdom and leadership in dealing with a global and social problem that directly or indirectly impacts every citizen.

In the twenty-first century, the capacity to communicate will almost certainly be a key human right. Eliminating the distinction between the information-rich and information-poor is also critical to eliminating economic and other inequalities between North and South, and to improve the life of all humanity.

- Nelson Mandela, 1995

Research Cluster for Digital Inequality and Social Change logo

Current Projects

Indigenous Children Cyber Safety Framework

The project aims to promote e-Safety of Indigenous children through effective parental interventions facilitated by a framework incorporating information technology (IT) appropriate to the socio-cultural context of Indigenous communities. Our prior work revealed that parents of different marginalised communities have inadequate understanding of the various cyber-threats faced by children. Moreover, current practices do not adequately account for cross-cultural and demographic-related factors such as those in Indigenous cultures where children are more vulnerable. This situation has created a need for sensitising Indigenous parents with actionable knowledge, skills, and tools to combat online risks to Indigenous children. Find our more about the project at CIRI Project (PDF, 708.48 KB).

Digital Privacy Divide (DPD)

The various levels of legislation and commitment of governments worldwide in information privacy have created a new era of the digital divide in privacy preservation. The “digital privacy divider (DPD)” concept is coined to describe the perceived gap in the privacy preservation of individuals residing in different parts of the world. The pilot research found that popular cultural dimensions theories, including Hofstede’s model, cannot model the DPD problem in different countries. For example, individuals residing in Germany and Bangladesh share similar privacy concerns, while there is significant similarity among individuals living in the United States and India. Moreover, we find that most responses acknowledge the importance of privacy legislation to protect their digital privacy.

More at  H. Alhazmi, A. Imran and M. A. Alsheikh, "How Do Socio-Demographic Patterns Define Digital Privacy Divide?," in IEEE Access

Inequality and visual recognition

With the increasing number of videos and images posted nowadays on social media networks, there is necessary to detect and, if possible, prevent the social racism in this footage. In this project, we develop an AI system to detect racism from the video footage based on which intervention programs can be developed to mitigate these acts..

Societal impact of digital technology

The emerging digitally excluded social groups in both developed and emerging communities or beneficial outcomes like increasing social participation of historically marginalised groups (women, young people, ATSI, etc.) whose voices are increasingly being heard through digital communication technologies. Some media/sociology theories such as technology affordance, domestication of technology, media as practice might be useful to investigate different ways of technology adoption including the digital divide and ethics, and the outcomes/impacts (social capital, etc.)

Inequality within IT project teams its impact in project outcome

Project management literature mostly focuses on process, frameworks, risk, quality and stakeholder engagement.  Issues around project team composition and the impact this has on the overall outcomes are not well developed in this literature.  This project will consider these issues from a digital inequality perspective, initially with an exploratory study into student project teams and then extending into industry based projects.

Past Events

First International Symposium on Digital Inequality and Social Change (ISDISC), 28-29 March 2022

Theme: Bridging digital inequality for a better and inclusive society

Hosted by the University of Canberra, ISDISC aims to raise awareness and share knowledge on digital inequality and social change amongst researchers, practitioners and relevant policy makers through a range of exciting activities:

  • Keynote speakers by international figures
  • Industry panel
  • Academic workshop
  • Paper presentation
  • Academic panel
  • Poster competition
  • Social events

The symposium is centred around research and practice that foster innovative tailored solutions to bridge the gap while promoting inclusiveness.

For more details, see ISDISC22.

RC-disc Workshop 1: Systematic Literature Review (SLR) and How to publish a paper from a literature study?

Research Cluster of Digital Inequality and Social Change (RC-disc) organised a virtual workshop on 2nd of November, 2021 on Systematic Literature Review (SLR) and How to publish a paper from a literature study?, which was run by an international expert on SLR Associate Professor Wasana Bandara. The workshop was also benefitted by a talk by ANU’s endowed chair and eminent scholar of Information Systems Professor Shirley Gregor on Design Science Oriented (DSO) Reviews followed by Q&A. The workshops are being delivered in two phases with a gap of 4-5 weeks.

Contact Us

Research Cluster for Digital Inequality and Social Change (RC-disc)
School of Information Technology and Systems
Faculty of Science and Technology
University of Canberra | University Drive, ACT 2617 | Australia

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