“Our work is to Indigenise the academy”: Professor Susan Page chats to us about CAIK’s award winning work

by | 27 Feb, 2019 | 0 comments

UTS academics in the Centre for the Advancement of Indigenous Knowledges (CAIK) were awarded the prestigious Neville Bonner Award fro Indigenous Education this week at the Australian Awards for University Teaching. Professor Susan Page talked to us about what their team has been up to and the process behind the Indigenous Graduate Attribute.

Please tell us a little about the work your team was awarded for…

Our work is to Indigenise the academy, whether that be through our work with our colleagues to develop curriculum, with students in classrooms or through our championing of Indigenous higher degree research students or publishing our work to contribute to the scholarly literature. This project began in 2015 and has been running ever since.

What was the gap, or opportunity?

The University had made a commitment to having Indigenous Graduate Attributes but recognised that Indigenous academics would be needed to undertake the work required to achieve that aspiration.

In a line, what are the Indigenous Graduate Attributes?

All UTS graduates develop Indigenous professional capacities to work with Indigenous Australian peoples and communities.

Is this work unique in the tertiary space?

Since the release of the Universities Australia Indigenous Strategy 2017-2020, most universities are seeking to ensure that their graduates encounter Indigenous Knowleges in the curriculum, however no other university that we are aware of has had a Centre with three senior staff appointed to drive the practical and strategic agenda.

How have/will our students benefit?

Diversity learning can help students’ foster skills such as critical thinking. In a practical sense, graduates should be better able to contribute to a national goal of equity for Indigenous Australians in their professional roles. The hundreds of students who have completed our Aboriginal Sydney Now subject,an elective available to all UTS students, have a better understanding of Sydney as a contemporary Aboriginal place, not completely overwritten by the city, but vibrant and evident when you know where (and how) to look.

Our application also includes our work building a cohort of Indigenous (and non-Indigenous research students) and our work in contributing to the professional development of HDR supervisors when working with Indigenous students and research methodologies.

How will/has this work enriched the academic community?

We expect that our students and colleagues will have a greater capacity to contribute to the critique and decolonisation of Western/Eurocentric knowledge about Indigenous peoples and communities, and the strengthening of knowledge and respect for, Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing.

In relation to this work, what are you most proud of?

Just the one!

I’m proud of how our team has worked together to achieve much more than we might have done as individuals. I’m also proud of the way the university community has taken up the idea of Indigenous Graduate Attributes. We’re grateful for the support of the university executive, who have continued to take an active interest in our work.

Neville Bonner Award for Indigenous Education

The award is named for Neville Bonner AO (1922-1999), the first Indigenous Australian in Federal Parliament, representing Queensland as a Liberal Party Senator from 1971 to 1983. UTS academics to have won this award in the past include: Associate Professor in Social and Political Sciences Heidi Norman, awarded in 2016, and Professor Larissa Behrendt, joint recipient of the inaugural Neville Bonner Award for Indigenous Education in 2002.

Learn more about the team’s work:

Professor Susan Page will deliver a keynote address entitled ‘To know or not to know: Challenges for Indigenous Studies teachers and learners’ at the upcoming Vice-Chancellor’s Learning and Teaching Award Ceremony on Monday 25 March. All staff are welcome to attend the award ceremony, and you can register at the link.

Read more about the team’s Neville Bonner Award at UTS:Newsroom.

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