Doctoral ‘best practice’ research ethics reconsidered

Dr Jessica Weir1

1Western Sydney University, Sydney, Australia


This presentation unpicks the ‘best practice’ that was my doctoral research partnership with an alliance of traditional owner nations from along the Murray and Lower-Darling Rivers (MLDRIN). It also builds on a collaborative paper about the inscription and re-inscription of colonial privilege through doctoral research conducted in North America and Australia, both with and without Indigenous communities (Weir et al., in peer review). Doctoral scholars support, and are supported by, a university system that routinely identifies injustice but does little about it, including decolonial research (Tuck and Yang 2014). I consider what could have been down differently when I did my doctorate, and identify some suggestions for non-Indigenous scholars and the academy in this deeply fraught knowledge generation space.  Clearly, research that challenges discriminatory knowledge hierarchies also needs to include the funding and governance structures and processes that support them.


Jessica Weir is a Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University. Her research has been supported through partnerships with Indigenous peoples across Australia, including her book Murray River Country: an ecological dialogue with traditional owners (2009). As an environmental humanities scholar, Jessica is particularly interested in the interactions of settler-colonial and Indigenous knowledge practices, and their conceptual/material consequences. Jessica is also a Visiting Fellow at the Fenner School, ANU, and leads two projects funded by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.

Aboriginalising the curriculum: Transcending Australian geography’s dark past

Dr Stewart Williams1, Mr Rob Anders1, Dr Roger Vreugdenhil1, Prof. Jason Byrne1

1University Of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia


Australian geography has been implicated in the white settler colonial project, in many ways acting as a ‘minion’ to invasion. Griffith Taylor’s survey of Australia’s physiography, for example, was simultaneously a masterful work in physical and human geography, an uncomfortable homage to environmental determinism, and a distasteful project – complicit in the emptying of the Australian landscape of Aboriginal people, legitimising dispossession. Undoing the harm of this past is a crucial mandate for geography education, and much work is already underway. This paper reports on a workshop with Aboriginal people and Australian geography educators in Tasmania, as a starting point for how Tasmanian geography can come to terms with its history of genocide, dispossession and a politics of extinction. The workshop generated valuable insights into: learning to live lorefully on Country; building a community of practice; and how to integrate the knowledge and practices of Aboriginal people into the geography curriculum. Lessons learned are informing curriculum renewal and building new relationships.

Challenging the Colonial Legacy of/at Macquarie

Prof. Richie Howitt1

1Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia


Macquarie University takes its name from a man known simultaneously as the early colony’s greatest colonial administrator, a key inspiration for Australia’s egalitarian ethos, the military strategist who authorised the Appin Massacre and established the Parramatta and Blacktown Native Institutes, which were the first institutions aimed at separating Aboriginal children from their families, culture and language. This paper explores Macquarie’s ambiguous legacy and how it is mobilised to promote the university. It discusses how geographers might contribute to engaging with the ‘Macquarie legacy’ and its implications for Macquarie University. Decolonising this particular university must involve much more than simple renaming – although that would be far from simple. Transformation of the institution into a partner with Dharug and other Indigenous groups must involve uncomfortable reflection and action on the purpose, process and outcomes of education, on the nature and purpose of partnership, and more generally on the nature of decolonising transformations.


Richie Howitt retired as Professor of Geography at Macquarie University in 2018. As an elected member of the University Council he grappled with how institutional racism in higher education is played out in that university and how carrying the name of a controversial colonial governor influences its engagement with colonial legacies. Since retiring he has become a Director of the Dharug Strategic Management Group Ltd, which received title to the Blacktown Native Institute site, which was established by Lachlan Macquarie. His presentation will address the challenges of decolonising Macquarie.

Gnarly problems and provocative questions: De-colonising global citizenship in a Te Tiriti led university

Dr Sharon McLennan1

1Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand


In her seminal work on de-colonising global citizenship Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti suggests educators need to ‘go up the river’ to the roots of global problems, to avoid perpetuating thin versions of global citizenship which leave untouched assumptions of us/them, rich/poor, and helper/helped. She asks: “is the practice of global citizenship supporting or suppressing deeper education about global issues, and ethical solidarities with dissenting communities?” This question is central to the teaching of a suite of citizenship courses at Massey University where students are encouraged to reflect on the multiple factors shaping their identity, including New Zealand’s colonial past, and to locate themselves in relation to gnarly global problems. These courses have been developed in the context of a university that has expressed a commitment to becoming Te Tiriti-led – that is, to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi as the founding document of our nation, and its principles through our practice. In this paper I reflect on the process of teaching global citizenship in the context of a Tiriti-led university and, in doing so, address Andreotti’s questions and explore the unique perspective New Zealand academics, students and graduates have to offer in relation to the problems currently facing our world.


Dr. Sharon McLennan (PhD Development Studies, MPhil, BNursing), Lecturer, Institute of Development Studies, School of People, Environment and Planning

Massey University,

Sharon McLennan is a lecturer in the Development Studies Programme at Massey University and teaches global citizenship in the Massey BA core courses. She has research interests in international volunteering, health and development.

Current and recent research projects:

  • Cuba in the Pacific
  • Global citizenship education
  • Voluntourism in Fiji

Decolonisation and knowledge production

A/Prof. Haripriya Rangan1

1University Of Melbourne


In the concluding chapter of ‘The Wretched of the Earth’, Frantz Fanon exhorts his readers from the Third World to move beyond the conceits of European thinking and “reconsider the question of cerebral reality and of the cerebral mass of all humanity, whose connections must be increased, whose channels must be diversified and whose messages must be re-humanized” (1963: 314). But how has Fanon’s radical vision been actualised following the end of colonial rule in these countries?  What are the ways in which decolonisation of knowledge production has taken place in universities of the Global South? This paper will look at India, South Africa, and Australia through a comparative lens to reflect on the structural contexts, national debates, and approaches deployed to decolonise education and knowledge production in universities.


Haripriya (Priya) Rangan is Principal Fellow at the School of Geography, University of Melbourne, and Principal Consultant for Government Projects and Research Engagement at the Australia India Institute. She trained in architecture and urban planning in India and holds a doctoral degree from the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) in urban and regional development.Priya’s research focuses on regional development, rural social equity and responsible natural resource use in various parts of the Indian Ocean region, including South Africa, India and Australia.

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