Applying Critical Race Theory to an Indigenous Graduate Attribute Project.

Year: 2017

Author: Page, Susan, Trudgett, Mihelle, Bodkin-Andrews Gawaian

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Critical race theorists (Ladson-Billings, 1998) refer to the curriculum as a 'White masterscript' which recreates and reproduces graduates in its own image. Universities Australia, in their recently released Indigenous Strategy 2017 - 2020 have signaled that this type of curriculum is no longer acceptable, indicating that by 2020 each university should have mechanisms in place to ensure that all students engage with Indigenous content during their study. In 2015, responding to a similar direction recommended in the Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (Behrendt, Larkin, Griew, & Kelly, 2012), the X University appointed three senior Indigenous staff to lead a coordinated approach to embedding Indigenous Knowledges in the curriculum, university wide. This transformative agenda was preceded by careful institutional planning which recognised the critical need for resources to implement the Indigenous Graduate Attribute (IGA) project. The X Centre was established then as the hub for the IGA development. Graduate attributes are a mechanism for developing generic employability skills (Bridgstock, 2009, Oliver, 2011), but can also be advantageous for fostering graduate abilities to be productive contributors to society. Many graduates will ultimately be employed in managerial or professional roles, in which they are likely to make decisions directly or indirectly affecting Indigenous peoples and communities. Consider the transformative possibilities of significant numbers of graduates empowered to work effectively with Indigenous Australians. This presentation will draw on critical race theory to reflect on our experiences working on the IGA project. We will also explore the mechanisms by which the university drives Indigenous outcomes, including the IGA project. The presentation will include discussion of the building of a comprehensive implementation plan and consider the possibilities inherent in and the challenges of undertaking the project to date.