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New PhD course in Indigenous Knowledge

A new PhD course in Indigenous Knowledge – the first of its kind in Australia – will offer a unique opportunity for Indigenous knowledge holders to engage in research and foster new collaborations.

The course, developed at the University of Melbourne, has been designed to explicitly recognise Indigenous knowledge as its own interdisciplinary subject area, and support Indigenous knowledge holders to pursue vital research.

Commencing in 2023, the course seeks to broaden and deepen university engagement and reciprocal learning with Indigenous knowledge holders, and to strengthen understandings in important fields including language, education, health and justice.

University of Melbourne Professor Barry Judd, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous), said the PhD in Indigenous Knowledge represents a significant change in the way the University engages with Indigenous peoples as holders of knowledge.

“Once Indigenous peoples were positioned as the passive objects of research and knowledge was generated about them by outside researchers,” Professor Judd said.

“This PhD helps position Indigenous people as active researchers and as the holders of knowledge systems that are both ancient and critically important to solving the social, climatic, and environmental issues that confront global humanity today.

“The PhD Indigenous Knowledge will help foster genuine and ethical research collaborations between the University and Indigenous peoples in Australia and beyond.”

The course offers new pathways for Indigenous knowledge holders, with flexible entry and delivery requirements recognising the diversity of experiences, talents and expertise that Indigenous knowledge holders bring to their research.

Professor Aaron Corn, Inaugural Director of the Indigenous Knowledge Institute, said the course responds to the research interests of Indigenous knowledge holders and the University’s many Indigenous partners and is an important step in acknowledging their expertise.

“Indigenous knowledge remains fundamental to human life and diversity across Australia and the world. It has long contributed to intellectual life across fields as diverse as medicine, health, education, environment, agriculture, law, culture and the arts,” Professor Corn said.

“So we are actively pursuing better ways of recognising the significant research contributions that Indigenous knowledge holders make.”

The course is coordinated by the Indigenous Knowledge Institute in partnership with faculties across the University, and the PhD can be undertaken in any topic across any field.

Professor Corn said the flexibility the degree offers is unique among the University’s PhD courses and provides a streamlined pathway for exceptional Indigenous knowledge holders to PhD entry.

“This is the first PhD course to be approved at the University in five years and we are grateful to have a diverse group of Indigenous colleagues and partners across the University that have guided us to take this long overdue step,” Professor Corn said.

More details about the course can be found on the University of Melbourne website.

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