Dr Sarah Barns

Sarah Barns is a Vice-Chancellors Senior Research Fellow whose work is critically engaged with the evolution of digital–urban interfaces, platforms and ecosystems and their implications for urban justice and connected communities.

As a public artist and strategic designer Sarah leads creation of novel interfaces and programs that invite multi-disciplinary and multi-sensory community collaborations for public spaces. As an urban researcher, Sarah is a leading thinker in the emerging field of ‘platform urbanism’, which considers the impacts of digital business models on urban governance, policy and practice.

Sarah’s current research interests lie in the implications of platform-governed artificial intelligence for urban governance and resilience planning, and the uses of relational and generative intelligence for place-based ecosystems and community connections. This includes the role of more-than-human perspectives in the creation of place-based AI ecosystems.

Sarah’s book Platform Urbanism: Negotiating Platform Ecosystems in Connected Cities was published by Palgrave in 2021, and she has published on urban platforms, open data, and digital urban governance for Urban Studies, Geography Compass, Urban Policy and Research, and Urban Geography.

Sarah was previously an Urban Studies Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow based at Western Sydney University, Industry Fellow at the QUT School of Design and Manager of Strategic Programs at UTS Creative Industries Innovation Centre. Sarah also has extensive experience as a strategy consultant and arts practitioner in the field of digital culture strategy and design, having established multidisciplinary art and design practice Esem Projects in 2012. Her creative work through Esem Projects includes Superorganism: Listening to the Anthropocene (2021), Radiant Matter (Arts Centre of Christchurch permanent artwork, 2015), We Dream the City (2022) and Birds of Australia STORYBOX (Australian Museum touring exhibition, 2022-2025). She has led public art and interpretation frameworks for urban masterplans on behalf of HASSELL, Arcadia, GML, Sydney Living Museums, Arup and more.