Issue 9
Monday, 04 November 2019
Charles Darwin University
Dean of the College of Indigenous Futures, Arts and Society, Professor Ruth Wallace has given her courses a greater emphasis on Northern Australia
Dean of the College of Indigenous Futures, Arts and Society, Professor Ruth Wallace has given her courses a greater emphasis on Northern Australia

Arts and Humanities gain North Australia makeover

By Jon Taylor

CDU’s College of Indigenous Futures, Arts and Society is drawing on its extensive knowledge and understanding of Australia, Indigenous knowledge and the interrelationships with the region, past and future, to redesign its Arts and Humanities courses.

The college is a leader in creative and innovative approaches to engaging with different perspectives and using social, cultural and economic evidence to improve decision-making.

Now the college has taken its creativity and innovation and applied it to the structure of its own courses to give them Northern Australian content and relevance.

Five new Arts courses will be offered ranging from a Diploma to a Masters level course, together with a new Bachelor of Humanitarian Aid and Development. All will feature new content to give students greater abilities to find their place in the region.

College Dean, Professor Ruth Wallace said the college had a wealth of knowledge about the social, cultural and economic landscape of the region that is now going to be more extensively integrated into teaching.

“It’s easy to see a subject area such as the arts through the prism of tradition and pursue the same content and subjects that, in one form or another, have been taught for hundreds of years,” Professor Wallace said.

“Or you can try and make your offering unique by considering the context, geography and cultures that your students will ultimately operate in and build their knowledge in these areas.

“At a time when the questions are being asked about how much Australian culture is being taught by our own universities, we’ve gone one better and given these courses a North Australian twist,” she said.

Core units across the suite of new courses have been devised that seek to teach content in a way that’s relevant to Northern Australia and South-east Asia.

The core units are Indigenous Australia, Northern Exposure, Cultural Capabilities and Northern Futures.

The Indigenous Australia unit provides a foundation for understanding contemporary Indigenous knowledge perspectives and builds knowledge around the intellectual traditions, experiences and practices for understanding and engaging with Indigenous issues and society.

Northern Exposure looks at the origins, landscapes and people and cultures of desert and tropical Australian and nearby neighbours and discusses the socially and culturally contested viewpoints and the influences and interaction between the human and natural environments.

Cultural Capabilities develops students’ understanding of culture and knowledge making processes to develop a framework for engaging between themselves and others.

The contemporary socio-cultural narratives and contexts for engagement in Northern Australia and the region to the north are examined in the Northern Futures unit. Students will critically examine the policy, social and cultural frameworks that operate at all levels and what these represent for the future of the region.

Professor Wallace said the core units were interdisciplinary and designed to fit across the ultimate professions graduates stream into.

“We want to equip our students with the knowledge and context to be a professional and leader working in this region, so they can make their own professional path from Diploma level right through to Masters,” Professor Wallace said.

“We want our graduates to have an intimate knowledge of the culture, knowledge and relationships that drive Northern Australia and the region and be able to operate effectively and confidently,” she said.

The new suite of courses begins Semester 1, 2020.