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New approach marks major development in Indigenous studies

19 January 2016

The University of Sydney's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has launched an innovative and engaging new Indigenous Studies major.

Demonstrating the University's commitment to Indigenous participation, inter-disciplinary scholarship and cross-cultural dialogue, the new Indigenous Studies major marks a new era in the University of Sydney's decades-long commitment to Indigenous education and the emergence of Indigenous Studies as an internationally recognised discipline.

Indigenous Studies Academic Coordinator and Senior Lecturer in the Department of English Dr Peter Minter said the new major was an exciting and significant development in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences’ historical commitment to Indigenous Studies.

"What sets this major apart is not only its cultural and philosophical integrity, but also how it consolidates Indigenous Studies as a discipline in the Faculty," Dr Minter said.

"It's a demonstration of the University's commitment to a cutting-edge discipline that has become increasingly visible and internationally consequential in recent years."

Driven by a new cross-faculty Indigenous Studies Governance Committee, the Indigenous Studies major draws on the experience and expertise of former Koori Centre academics and colleagues from across the University. 

Students will learn about the diversity, strength and complexity of Indigenous societies, cultures, knowledges and histories, and have opportunities to engage with contemporary Indigenous life in ways that are culturally informed and respectful. 

In their senior year, students can take an advanced directed research project. 

"We are encouraging students to think independently and reflect critically in a sphere that is culturally informed and respectful.

"Our students will understand the implications of their learning in terms of their own lives and issues that have deeper significance nationally and internationally."

The University of Sydney has a proud history of engagement with Indigenous education and Indigenous Studies. 

The new Indigenous Studies major has its roots in the Aboriginal Teacher Aides program that began in 1975 and led to the establishment of the Koori Centre in 1992.

Inspired by a commitment to prioritising Indigenous content, scholarship and voices in a disciplinary framework that is broadly decolonising, a June 2014 workshop established a set of guiding principles and discipline-led goals for the Indigenous Studies major, which included commitments to:

  • Indigenous political, economic and cultural integrity and advancement
  • Indigenous community integrity, health and well-being
  • cultural and environmental sustainability in Indigenous country
  • cross-disciplinarity and engagement with Indigenous Studies nationally and internationally
  • faculty and cross-faculty engagement that welcomes the perspectives, expertise and fellowship of non-Indigenous colleagues across the University
  • reconciliation and the enhancement of the cultural competence of students and staff across the University.

To find out more about the Indigenous Studies major, contact the Academic Coordinator Dr Peter Minter or email