Beyond embedding Aboriginal Knowledges into curricula

Year: 2019

Author: Kennedy, Jade, Avena, Julie, Delahunty, Janine, Percy, Alisa, Thomas, Lisa, Harden-Thew, Kathryn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The Universities Australia Indigenous Strategy 2017 – 2020 suggests that by 2020 “all [Australian higher education] students will encounter and engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural content as integral parts of their course of study” (UA, 2017, p. 30). To achieve this, many Australian universities are in the process of developing whole-of-institution approaches to embedding Indigenous Knowledges into curricula. This presentation will describe the approach being taken at the University of Wollongong. Our approach to embedding Aboriginal Knowledges and perspectives into curricula involves taking interdisciplinary teams of academic and professional staff on a journey towards Curriculum Reconciliation. Curriculum Reconciliation in a professional learning context describes a process of taking participants on a journey on Country to decolonise thinking and begin to engage in the negotiation of authentic knowledge-based relationships between Aboriginal Knowledges and the relevant disciplinary knowledges. This program was designed and is facilitated by a local Traditional Knowledge Holder. It is conducted in consultation with the local Aboriginal community. And it is unique in the way it adheres to Aboriginal methods for maintaining knowledge integrity and conducting business in a professional learning context.

While we can talk about the impact of the program since its inception in 2017 in terms of number of staff engaged (77) across number of faculties (8), and number of subjects modified (41), this presentation focuses on how we use the Value Creation Framework (VCF) (Wenger, Trayner & de Laat, 2011) to explore through participants’ reflective narrative, the value that this program has created for them both personally and professionally. The Value Creation Framework (VCF) provides a useful heuristic for analysing how social learning processes, such as our program, create different dimensions of value for individual participants. It also allows us to make visible the link between personal and organisational transformation. In this presentation, we will focus on the research and analysis methods of the VCF, and demonstrate how they can be used to illustrate both the tangible program outcomes as well the intangible value it creates for the social good.