Course Title: Indigenous Peoples and the Environment

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Indigenous Peoples and the Environment

Credit Points: 12


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

Course Coordinator: Dr Ben Cooke

Course Coordinator Phone: +(61 3) 9925 9943

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 8, Level 11

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 Indigenous Australian beliefs and practices regarding human responsibilities for the wellbeing of particular places and landscapes. This must start with an appreciation of pre-colonial Indigenous beliefs and practices but it is critical to understand that Indigenous people and communities have continued to adapt to their changing circumstances since the arrival of European settlers. The course will feature field trips in and around Melbourne to demonstrate that we can learn how to look at places and landscapes through Indigenous eyes even in big cities. We learn that Indigenous cultures can demonstrate different ways to ‘read’ places and landscapes and thereby introduce a very different history of human settlement in Australia. Students will also be shown how to obtain knowledge and develop observational skills in order to become sensitive to an Indigenous Australian reading of people-place relationships. Students will also be introduced to an array of laws and policies that are aimed at protecting sites of significance or Indigenous Australian rights and heritage in order to examine how such legislative and policy frameworks can best be used to build deeper respect for Indigenous beliefs and practices on place and land management. Students will be introduced to the way in which Indigenous Australians use the English word ‘country’ and will be asked to reflect on what it might mean to adopt the language of ‘caring for country’.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

By completing this course, students will develop:

  1. An appreciation of Indigenous Australian beliefs and practices in relation to human responsibilities for places and landscapes;
  2. An understanding of how Indigenous Australians have adapted to the arrival of European settlers;
  3. An understanding of the largely unacknowledged influences that Indigenous Australians have had on non-Indigenous beliefs and practices.
  4. An understanding of the ethic that is embedded within the term ‘caring for country’;
  5. A critical understanding of legislative and policy frameworks aimed at protecting Indigenous Australian rights and cultural heritage;
  6. A practical understanding of how to engage with Indigenous people and communities in order to advance the ethic of ‘caring for country’.

Program Learning Outcomes

In this program 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

Overview of Learning Activities

The course will include a series of lectures/workshops and field trips in the Melbourne region.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems. You will be provided with a wide range of recommended reading material and online learning resources.

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 may include essay writing, case study research and reflective writing.

Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks via the course Blackboard.

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 the Disability Liaison Unit if you would like to find out more.

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions which are available for review online: