Course Title: Indigenous Peoples and the Environment

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Indigenous Peoples and the Environment

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 1 2007,
Sem 1 2009,
Sem 2 2016,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2020,
Sem 2 2022


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies

Face-to-Face or Internet

Sem 2 2021

Course Coordinator: Professor Libby Porter

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 39925-3585

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 8, Floor 11, Room 10

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities



Course Description

This course examines what all people living in Australia might gain by having a deeper understanding of Aboriginal peoples’ knowledges and laws regarding human responsibilities for Country. This must start with an acknowledgement that sovereignty was never ceded and that Indigenous knowledge, laws and practices continue to shape landscapes and places as they have done for thousands of generations. The course will feature field studies to demonstrate that we can learn how to look at places and landscapes as Indigenous places, even in big cities. We learn that Indigenous cultures can demonstrate different ways to understand places and landscapes and thereby introduce a very different history of human settlement in Australia. You will develop competencies and understandings in respectful relationships with Indigenous knowledges and laws. You will also be introduced to an array of settler laws and policies in relation to access to land, protection of Country and heritage management. You will critically examine these policies to consider the extent to which they respect Indigenous sovereignty and their capacity to care for Country. 

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Program Learning Outcomes

In course you will develop the following program learning outcomes:

  • Apply a body of theoretical and practical knowledge of principles and practices in natural resource management, sustainability, globalisation and environmental management to professional practice or further study. 
  • Critically analyse, synthesise and reflect on knowledge related to the social implications of environmental concerns and challenges both in Australia and globally. 
  • Assist in the identification of needs, and the design, planning, resourcing and development of projects in environmental and social sustainability. 

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

1. Appreciate and respect Indigenous Australian beliefs and practices in relation to human responsibilities for places and landscapes; 

2. Identify and explain the impact of colonisation on Indigenous peoples, places and knowledge systems;

3. Outline an informed perspective about the concept of Caring for Country and its implications for settler policy;

4. Critically examine settler legislative and policy frameworks that impact on Indigenous Country, law, knowledge and heritage;

5. Demonstrate practical awareness of how to engage with Indigenous people and communities in order to advance the ethic of ‘caring for country’.

Overview of Learning Activities

The course will include lectures, discussions, field studies and observations, reading and viewing various materials. 

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems and RMIT library resources. 

You will be expected to utilise library and electronic resources (as well as any other appropriate resources) to engage in the reading of academic literature. RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems. Recommended learning resources for each topic will mostly include journal articles and web resources but you will also be expected to seek further resources relevant to the focus of your own learning. 

There are services available to support your learning through the University Library. The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help as well as a range of study support services. For further information, please visit the Library page on the RMIT University website and the myRMIT student portal. 

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes.

Assessment Tasks

        1. Reflection and Engagement Task (20%) (CLO1 and CLO2)

        2. Essay Task (40%) (CLO3)

        3. Field Study Research (40%) (CLO4 and CLO5)

Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks.

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more.

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions.