Creating authentic, reflexive, and enduring ways to embed Indigenous perspectives into a first-year engineering course
Creating authentic, reflexive

Posted by : Jennifer Campbell May 5, 2022

Contact : jennifer.campbell at Maps

This project aimed to authentically embed Indigenous perspectives into a core first-year engineering design course within the design process. The course is centred around students completing the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) challenge, which in 2020 focused on Cape York communities in Northern QLD in partnership with the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT). This provided an opportunity for us to redesign the existing course and provide a more embedded curriculum for students to engage with Indigenous perspectives. Our approach aims to increase understanding of how incorporating the social and cultural needs of a community contributes to better design outcomes and higher standards of professional practice. We adapted the existing ePortfolio resources (from previous course offerings) to add more reflection activities and new case study material. We also partnered with industry, including senior engineers with extensive lived experience working within remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to create fit for purpose design solutions. We hoped that these changes to the course would help students to develop Stage 1 engineering competencies (Engineers Australia, 2011) but also help students develop a critical lens to help break “the silence of the subjectivity of the dominant world view” in higher education (Matthews, Hill, Hill, Cadet-James, & Elston, 2016, p. 15).

The core intentions we have that are embedded into our approach and the lessons learnt from this process can be summarised, we believe, into three themes “Reflexive”, “Authentic”, and “Enduring”. This chapter will use these three themes to frame and explore our process and curriculum redesign to support students completing the EWB challenge. First, we will give an overview of our approach to embedding Indigenous perspectives in the course, specifically what we did. This will be followed by a discussion of how and why we believe this approach is reflexive, authentic, and enduring.

Extract from Chapter 6, Indigenous Engineering for an Enduring Culture, edited by Cat Kutay, Elyssebeth Leigh, Juliana Kaya Prpic and Lyndon Ormond-Parker. Published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Author: Jennifer Leigh Campbell, Ruby Naomi Michael, and Julie Crough

Location: Griffith University