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Outreach and survival: Teaching through interdisciplinary and community links

Roy Jones
Faculty of Media, Culture and Society, Curtin University of Technology
The survival of academic disciplines within Australian academia is under threat. In addition to several decades of increasingly severe funding cuts, administrative changes have replaced subject based departments with larger, and often less coherent, organisational groupings and a shift has occurred, in both student demand and government policy and rhetoric, towards a more vocationally and instrumentally oriented system of higher education. This presentation will consider how the small Geography section at Curtin has sought to turn these two latter trends to its own and its students' advantage.

Firstly, the section's teachers have collaborated with colleagues from several other disciplines to team teach several units, many of which have been "double badged", for example Geography 214/Anthropology 222. Secondly, the field work component of several units has been developed, in coordination with government bodies and community groups, to provide material which is both assessable in pedagogic terms and usable by or useful to the "industry partners". Student, non-Geography staff and partner feedback have all been positive. With regard to the interdisciplinary shift, both staff and students valued the increased exposure to different viewpoints, approaches and individuals. With regard to the partner directed fieldwork, students appreciated the "real world" relevance of the tasks performed and their ready transferability to CVs and job selection criteria, and staff noted that the students' appreciation of the practical utility of their projects improved the quality of the (often problematic) group work tasks involved therein.

Please cite as: Jones, R. (2003). Outreach and survival: Teaching through interdisciplinary and community links. In Partners in Learning. Proceedings of the 12th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 11-12 February 2003. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/jones-abs.html

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Last revision: 15 Jan 2003. This URL: http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/jones-abs.html