A new subject run by the Centre for the Advancement of Indigenous Knowledges (CAIK) is giving all undergraduate students the opportunity to better engage with and understand Indigenous culture. Hurrying through the Tower foyer on the way to your next meeting or lecture you might just miss it. But there, opposite the concierge desk, hanging proudly, is Portrait of Aunty Joan Tranter, a 2013 painting of UTS’s inaugural Elder-in-residence.
It’s this kind of easily-missed engagement with contemporary Indigenous culture that CAIK Professor Susan Page wants students to take notice of in the new undergraduate subject, Aboriginal Sydney Now.
CAIK, which was established in 2015, focuses on the implementation of UTS’s Indigenous Graduate Attributes. The strategy aims to ensure all graduates understand and engage with Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing in their chosen discipline. Aboriginal Sydney Now, offered to undergraduate students in all faculties as an online subject, is the first step to achieving these outcomes.
The subject, says Page, “is designed to be an introduction to Indigenous studies and we’re hoping that ultimately, a significant number of undergraduate students will take it in their first year.”
It was launched in Spring session 2016, and has, so far, been very well received, thanks in part to the unique and authentic assessments and activities.
“The very first thing we did was to get students to look for something Aboriginal on campus,” explains Page. “Students found all sorts of things like flags, publications, and of course artworks like the portrait of Aunty Joan.”