Indigenous Science is an area of emerging interest for scientific and cultural understanding, and as a mechanism for empowering Australia’s diverse first nations peoples. As universities are paying greater attention to this area, it is timely to collate, curate, and share resources and good practices which have been developed across the country.
The ACDS is currently supporting the exploratory survey Sharing better practices aimed at increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student participation in, and completion of science courses at Australian universities, led by Fiona Taylor (UTAS) and Tracey Kuit (UoW).
A new ACDS project led by Angela Ziebell (Monash University) aims to build on the findings of this survey and develop a website for all those involved in supporting Indigenous students and introducing Indigenous matters in the science curriculum. It is envisaged that the website will consolidate resources under the following four areas:
Cultural competency (preparing the learner/teacher)
This section will provide a background cultural and historical understanding that are essential for the student or the teacher to fully use and understand the rest of the resources. Resources collated in this section will focus on nationally recognised groups, publications and experts, to ensure a high-level quality and consistency of message.
It is important to embrace the interdisciplinary approach to knowledge that is key to the way that knowledge and learning is thought of, and passed on, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditions. This approach also comes with the added benefit that it adds a layer of interdisciplinary to learning and teaching, a feature which is missing or quite low in many traditional science degree structures. To allow a clear understanding of which discipline appear in which material, thorough indexing will be a key feature.
Initially this section will feature: (a) perspectives and resources explaining Indigenous pedagogies and how they can be integrated into everyday teaching, and (b) lessons learnt from educators established in this area. As work on the website continues this section is likely to evolve significantly.
Connections to specialists and experts
This section will include specialists and experts or groups thereof (where permission is gained) and will be indexed with their area of specialty.
|About the project leader
Dr Angela Ziebell is Monash Science’s champion for Indigenous engagement and is currently designing an Indigenous Science unit. This unit will showcase the amazing science used by Australia’s first people’s, and increase the cultural competency of those students completing the unit. The unit also provides a chance for interested individuals that identify as Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islands, to be involved in educating others about a part of their culture. While a very small step it is hoped that this will lead to opportunities for both students and staff at the nexus of Indigenous Science, Science communication and Science education.
Dr Ziebell is also the lead for Monash Science’s efforts to transition students from the classroom to the workforce and has a strong interest in student outcomes. Angela has project and customer management experience working with scientific industry, research institutes, government bodies and academia in the USA and Australia. Originally used to manage multimillion-dollar projects and tens of thousands of samples a year, Angela now uses her skills in the Higher Education sector to bridge the cultural gap between academia and external partners.