Featured transdisciplinary teaching material: Indigenous Concepts of Country and Sustainability
The concept of Country and sustainability
A core tenet for sustainability practice is the use of systemic thinking, which recognises that the whole is more than the sum of its parts and is a better way to understand and manage complex situations (Tilbury and Cooke 2005)*. This concept has proved difficult to communicate and teach.
The Indigenous concept of Country provides an excellent way for students to engage with systemic thinking and sustainability. It is the holistic engagement of a person with a specific physical location that is both symbolic and real. Australian Indigenous people have a deep emotional connection to Country – they care for and nurture Country; visit Country; talk to Country; sing for Country; and feel sorry for Country. Country defines identity and with identity comes obligation to oneself, to others past, present and future, and to nature.
These resources were developed by Robert Perey and Tyler Pike from the Australian Research Institute for Environment and Sustainability, with the generous support of the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. The resources include powerpoint slides and a teaching plan.
*(Reference) Tilbury, D. and Cooke, K. (2005) A National Review of Environmental Education and its Contribution to Sustainability in Australia: Frameworks for Sustainability - Key Findings. Canberra: Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage and Australian Research Institute in Education for Sustainability (ARIES).