addressing social-environmental problems in place

Curtin University - Semester 2 2019.

Project Description

We start with the premise that the solutions to big environmental problems will be destructive if we continue to follow mainstream ways of making decisions. Our objective, following Deborah Bird Rose (1999:83), is “a practice of other-focused care that orients our attention into the here and now, and focuses it on living beings and environments, on the sacred and damaged places of the world today.” We aim to nurture an ethic of attentiveness to each other, place, and other species essential for finding ways to address environmental problems that are not themselves destructive.
We will engage with the concepts of place, landscape, and region in a process of seeking ethical ways to address environmental problems in place. At the start of the process, each of these concepts will be interrogated then used to analyse the deep causes of environmental problems and their legacies in contemporary understandings of humans, environments, and places.
The group will then receive technical training and work integrated learning combined with reflexive approaches to understanding local geographies. Students will receive training in qualitative and quantitative methods (in particular, ARCGIS), in how to integrate data. Students will work with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal ecologists, community leaders, and geographers to build a sophisticated understanding of the site. The process culminates with a public planting at the end of semester where attentiveness will be practiced as we facilitate a group activity that seeks to draw together through practice geographical knowledge and an ethic of attentiveness.

Learning Methodology

The studio incorporates a range of learning methods across its 12 weeks:
• GIS (ARCGIS training, finding and integrating geodata)
• Participant observation of site
• Archival research
• Participatory methods (learning while working with other people on the planting)
• Noongar ontology and cosmology
• Ecological knowledge
• Event management (organising and running a public planting)

How does this studio match PlaceAgency Objectives?

This is multifaceted, experiential learning based around a multidisciplinary project that engages with Noongar worldviews and knowledge. The project aims to provide participants with the capacity to undertake environmental projects that engage with cultural ecologies in an Australian context, based around a pilot project at an Australian university.

Activities – Studio Outline

ActivityDescriptionKey dates for activitiesKey learning objectives
SeminarReadings and discussion of place, exploration of methods for understanding and analysing place.29/7Conceptual and methodological tools
SeminarReadings and discussion of landscape, exploration of methods for understanding and analysing landsca5/8Conceptual and methodological tools
SeminarReadings and discussion of region, exploration of methods for understanding and analysing region.12/8Conceptual and methodological tools
SeminarIntegration: bringing together the layers of landscape (with Greg Grabash) CAS staff participation19/8Conceptual and methodological tools
WorkshopHeritage studio: unpacking the layers of Fremantle (with Alan Kelsall).2/9Analytical skills and data synthesis
WorkshopMore than human interactions: physical forces and other species The assemblage: conversation with A9/9Analytical skills and data synthesis
WorkshopRight to Curtin: land ownership and access Regions and networks16/9Analytical skills and data synthesis
WorkshopHuman flows in space-time Plan for area finalised23/9Analytical skills and data synthesis
WorkshopReflection: what and how do(n’t) we know? Planning for public talks and plantings7/10Analytical skills and data synthesis
Public EngagementPublic talk by Noel Nannup, students to run public planting14/10Local-global interactions Communication
Public EngagementPublic talk by Alan Pilgrim, students to run public planting21/10Local-global interactions Communication
Public EngagementPublic talk by Robert Eggington, students to run public planting28/10Local-global interactions Communication

Location Description

Curtin University


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Studio Leaders
Tod JonesTod Jones
Project champion

Marion Kickett

Allyson Mullane

Allyson Mullane

- Geography (includes Planning and Education students)