Course Title: Mythbusting Reality: Indigenous v Western

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Mythbusting Reality: Indigenous v Western

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 1 2017

Course Coordinator: Associate Professor John Whyte

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 1079

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 37.2

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

If you communicate with plants, is that normal or suspicious? If you sense life in rocks are you sensitive or are you seen as a bit odd?  Mythbusting Reality examines the ways in which classical Western and traditional Indigenous understandings of the world can differ in the ways people communicate with each other, the nature of interactions with physical places, ideas of animate and inanimate qualities and non-physical entities and even time travel.  

These notions can involve more than just cross-cultural differences in language and custom, but can extend to pose fundamental questions of the nature of the physical and spiritual world and the ways we communicate and engage with it.  In this course you will not only explore how these Western and traditional Indigenous understandings of reality can differ, but also how differences can be seen by the other as improbable, impossible, deviant or heretical.  You will also explore how more recent advances in physics and consciousness studies reinforce—or contradict—long held ideas.  

In this course you will develop skills in examining these theories and in applying them to an understanding of a range of social issues which confront individuals in contemporary society. 

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

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

  • Explain introductory level concepts in Indigenous and Western knowledge systems.
  • Explain introductory level concepts in environmental, social and spiritual interactions.
  • Develop analytical research skills
  • Demonstrate respect for Indigenous knowledge systems
  • Reflect on your own perspectives and assumptions about Indigenous and Western ideas of reality.
  • Critically evaluate Indigenous and Western explanations about the key characteristics and understandings of reality.

Overview of Learning Activities

Learning activities will include interactive workshop activities focusing on group-based discussion and problem solving tasks. Course learning materials will be made available in a range of formats, which may include lectures, guest speakers and online media. In workshops you will also develop academic skills including analytical reading and academic writing.

In order to develop your knowledge and skills, you will be expected to participate in interactive discussions and activities and to critically engage with the weekly reading materials. The workshops offer a supportive learning environment where you will have the opportunity to share your knowledge and experiences, and to learn from the knowledge and experience your peers. This peer-based learning may take place through small-group discussions, collaborative work on activities and assessments and/or peer reviewing of research, written work and/or oral presentations.

Overview of Learning Resources

You will be given access to a wide range of resources through a Course Reader or core textbook and also will be able to access to a wide range of online learning tools and content for your course from the student portal, myRMIT, and RMIT Library resources. These resources will include book chapters, journal articles, media articles, lecture notes, bibliographies for supplementary reading, video, and links to external websites.

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 may include, but are not limited to, tutorial presentations, analysis of interview, written analysis of a biography, totalling no more than 4,000 words. Assessment will cover both theoretical and practical aspects of your learning. Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks.

In this course there are three assessments. It is essential that you participate fully in the course activities as they have been designed to prepare you for assignments and to meet the intended learning outcomes of the course. The assessments are comprised of:


Group presentation [20%] 

In groups of at least 4 students you will lead the tutorial on the weeks topic based on the selected readings. The presentation should not exceed 10 minutes. You team will identify the key themes, arguments and points on a specific topic or reading. This assessment will be peer reviewed by the rest of class [10%] and assessed by the tutor for content, presentation and argument [10%].


Excursion and report [30%] 

In groups of up to 4 students attend a natural or built location that has been identified as evoking strong experiences or impressions from a list of such locales provided in class. Present a journal piece on what the experiences or impressions were associated with the locale, what the group experienced, how this compares to popular commentaries or reports. Analyse how has this challenged or has not challenged your views of what you know of Western and Indigenous worldviews. Nominate one person in the group to upload your assignment into the on-line system.


In class debate [50%] 

In teams of up to six students, engage in a debate around one feature of the differences in Indigenous and Western notions of reality. The teams will identify the key themes, arguments and points on both sides of the worldview differences. The debates will be peer reviewed by the rest of the class [25%] and by the teaching team for content, presentation and argument [25%].


Other information

  • 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.
  • A student charter summarises your responsibilities as an RMIT student as well as those of your teachers.
  • Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions which are available for review online:;ID=c15i3ciaq8ca