01 July 2011

Associate Professor Helen Klaebe from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) will be travelling to Washington to further her work at the Smithsonian Institute after being awarded a sought-after fellowship.

Professor Klaebe, head of postgraduate coursework studies at QUT's Creative Industries Faculty, is one of just four Queensland researchers to achieve this year's Queensland-Smithsonian Fellowship honour.

The fellowships provide recipients with the opportunity to work alongside leading scientists and researchers at the Smithsonian, the world's largest museum and research institution.

Professor Klaebe will trial innovative ways of evaluating the economic, cultural and audience impact of public programs at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, held every summer in Washington DC.

"I'm really excited about the opportunity to work collaboratively with like-minded colleagues and engage, interact and be inspired by them," said Professor Klaebe.

Professor Klaebe hopes to develop a free online tool kit that organisations can access to better evaluate narrative-driven community engagement activities, such as oral history and digital storytelling in public spaces.

"I'll be working with Smithsonian researchers to positively impact the planning, delivery and sustainability of public programs offered by cultural institutions," she said.

"We are seeking to obtain richer information on the experience from different points of view; not just that of the funder, but of the stakeholder, the artist, the participant and the audience."

The fellowship covers airfares and living expenses for up to six months and aims to establish mutually beneficial projects between Queensland and Smithsonian researchers that advance research, disseminate knowledge and promote social and cultural development.

"It's such a wonderful opportunity for our university to be able to plug into an institution like theirs and devise research together," Professor Klaebe said.

"The Smithsonian researchers have also been examining evaluation practices, and I'm really looking forward to jointly working with them."

Media contact: Katrina Blowers, QUT Media Officer, 07 3138 2999 or

Associate Professor Helen Klaebe will head to the Smithsonian Institute to explore ways to measure the impact of oral history and digital story telling.