• Class Number 8805
  • Term Code 3060
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Bruce Doran
    • AsPr Lorrae Van Kerkhoff
    • Dr Bruce Doran
    • AsPr Lorrae Van Kerkhoff
    • Alexander Van Der Meer Simo
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 27/07/2020
  • Class End Date 30/10/2020
  • Census Date 31/08/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 03/08/2020
    • Dr Bruce Doran
SELT Survey Results

 This course uses three case studies to develop a multi-faceted, research-based understanding of complex environmental problems that graduating students can apply in future research or work environments. The course emphasises integrative, engaged, and research-based approaches to complexity. The first two cases present complex local and national issues in collaboration with key stakeholders. Students engage with these issues by drawing on a range of theoretical concepts and practical tools. The learning from these cases is then applied to a developing a research project proposal. The focus throughout is on case studies as vehicles for learning and reflection, as well as a testing ground for tools, techniques and approaches discussed in the course.   


Note: Graduate students attend joint classes with undergraduates but are assessed separately. During the second part of the course graduate students attend specialist case-based tutorials with peers.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Understand and engage with the methodological and practical challenges posed by complex environmental problems.
  2. Critically evaluate the complex nature of environmental problems.
  3. Apply higher-level problem solving skills in environmental studies and environmental science, including problem framing, social learning and critical reflection.
  4. Create innovative, collaborative research-based responses to complex environmental problems.
  5. Understand and apply effective stakeholder engagement practices within a case-based framework.
  6. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the case study approach as a means of addressing complexity.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • Written comments related to each of the assessment criteria.

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Postgraduate students will attend the same timetabled classes as the undergraduate cohort until the mid-semester teaching break. The tutorial sessions after the mid-semester break will provide an opportunity for postgraduates to develop a research agenda to address a complex environmental problem. These classes will be held independently to the undergraduate cohort workshops.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 The following provides a broad summary of the activities undertaken in the course. A week by week outline of events is available on the course Wattle site. Week 1 Introduction: thinking about complex problems
2 Weeks 2-3 Case study 1: Post-COVID Return to ANU: Greening our return to campus Your first case study aims to develop awareness of the importance of problem framing and stakeholder analysis as first steps in understanding a complex environmental problem. You will work in online groups to apply problem framing tools, engage in interdisciplinary conversations and create a problem statement for this complex issue.
3 Weeks 4-6 Case study 2: Yawuru natural resource management in a post-Native Title world The second case study draws upon an ongoing partnership between the ANU and the Yawuru community, the traditional owners of the country in and around Broome, Western Australia. In this case study, we will explore some of the key challenges and opportunities that are associated with Native Title, with a specific focus on the intersection of cultural values and the pastoral industry. How can complexity and integrative principles help us understand and engage with the challenges here? Can we really solve complex problems? Students will be required to write an essay that applies transdisciplinary principles to understanding and advancing our thinking on these complex challenges.
4 Weeks 6-12 Peer-led tutorials and research project portfolio. The tutorial sessions after the mid-semester break will provide an opportunity for postgraduates to develop a research agenda to address a complex environmental problem. Students will present aspects of their work as their project and approach evolves. You will be required to present two seminars and develop a research portfolio. The requirements for these assessment items are provided below

Tutorial Registration


Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Video Presentation 15 % 22/08/2020 04/09/2020 1,2
Yawuru Essay 35 % 11/09/2020 02/10/2020 2,4,5,6
Tutorial Seminars 10 % 04/09/2020 18/09/2020 2,4,5,6
Learning Portfolio 40 % 30/10/2020 20/11/2020 1,3,4,5,6

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.



Assessment Task 1

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 22/08/2020
Return of Assessment: 04/09/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Video Presentation

o Build students sense of agency and confidence in dealing with complex, open-ended “no-single solution” issues

o Build an understanding and self-awareness of each student’s individual perspective and way of approaching a complex environmental problem, including both its strengths and limitations, in the context of consultation.

o Offer meaningful and useful contributions to ANU student consultation regarding the ‘Reimagine Our ANU’ initiative.

Background: The ANU is in the early stages of a major redesign of its campus, over the long term (to 2030). The ANU Master Plan is going to set the guidance for decisions that will ultimately shape how the campus will look, feel and function.

This in turn is guided by the current ANU Strategic Plan, which states that:

The natural environment, landscaping and amenity of our campus are unsurpassed and are much loved by students, staff and alumni. We will plan and invest in our campus to reflect the needs and desires of our people now and in the future. The facilities, infrastructure and environment of ANU will exemplify the excellence we seek to achieve across the University. As a national leader in climate science and policy, ANU will prioritise sustainability as a principle.

More specifically, the Campus Master Plan team are interested to \ develop interdisciplinary spaces that will help to break down the silos of disciplines. In class, in interdisciplinary teams of 4 or 5, you will hold a ‘kitchen table’ discussion to brainstorm ideas that address the question: Can green space on campus help to foster interdisciplinary collaborations? And generate examples of how this could look at ANU.

  • Students will be required to research and develop a 2-3 minute video that presents your idea for how this may be achieved, shows your own individual concept of the linkages between the natural environment and human interaction, and how that may be demonstrated at ANU. Although each video is individual, you may reference your interdisciplinary group discussion.

  • This is a 'live' case study, with further suggestions that may be brought by presentations by ANU Facilities and Services, ARUP, or other stakeholders.

  • The intention is to present considerable variety, and as a whole class come up with a ‘tapestry’ rather than a single coherent message.

  • Instructions for students: Videos must be submitted electronically in MP4 format. Resources for making your video will be discussed in class.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 11/09/2020
Return of Assessment: 02/10/2020
Learning Outcomes: 2,4,5,6

Yawuru Essay

The primary purpose of this three week case is to learn how to formulate an argument about a complex issue that synthesises across a range of perspectives. To do this we will examine a complex environmental problem in a post native title, Australian Indigenous context. We will be investigating the issue of tourism development on Yawuru country.

The Yawuru people are the traditional owners of the area in and around the town of Broome, Western Australia (see Taylor et al., 2014 for important background reading on this case). During the first week we will be forming working groups for the case, covering background material and evaluating different sources of information. You will also prepare a set of questions for a key stakeholder engagement workshop in week two of the case study. The stakeholder workshop will be run in an online format with Yawuru guests.

One of the key challenges with this case is to synthesize information from different sources as you build arguments in response to the essay question. There are a number of primary and secondary sources of information that you can use:

1. Primary sources: Two sources of primary information below should be well integrated into your essay. The interview with senior Yawuru man and national Indigenous leader, Patrick Dodson was recorded by Goolarri Media, an Indigenous audio-visual company based in Broome. During the interview, Patrick Dodson responds to a set of questions relating to native title, land management challenges and mining impacts upon Yawuru country.

The interview was specifically recorded for ENVS3040/6025 and has been structured as a broader address to the ANU. The second source of primary information will be the online discussion during the stakeholder engagement workshop. You will need to have a strategy for collecting information during the workshop as the panel discussion will not be recorded.

I. Dodson, P. (2012) ‘A Message from Pat Dodson’, recorded by Goolarri Media, Broome, September 2012. Available on the course Wattle site.

II. Stakeholder engagement workshop (to be held in August, final date to be confirmed with Yawuru collaborators).

2. Secondary sources: You will also need to make use of a range of secondary sources. Some relevant secondary sources will be provided during the case but you will also need to find additional information on your own. Examples of secondary sources include:

  • Published journal articles and working papers;
  • Government and non-government reports;
  • Media reports and online sources;

Essay question: this is finalised in the first week of the course, in collaboration with Nyamba Buru Yawuru

Length and format: 2,000 words (excluding appendices), Harvard referencing system, single spaced, PDF Document submitted via Turnitin.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 04/09/2020
Return of Assessment: 18/09/2020
Learning Outcomes: 2,4,5,6

Tutorial Seminars

The tutorial sessions after the mid-semester break will provide an opportunity for postgraduates to develop a research agenda to address a complex environmental problem. Students will present aspects of their work as their project and approach evolves.

The key to success during this stage of the course concerns how well your group can engage with peers and staff to evaluate your research ideas in a progressive manner.

During the tutorials we will be drawing upon some concept development tools and frameworks from the realm of marketing as well as the stages involved in a problem solving effort (Bardwell, 1991: 605):

1. Building an understanding of the problem: defining the problem space

2. Establishing some initial criteria for the goal

3. Searching for solutions

4. Deciding amongst solutions

5. Evaluating progress: comparing initial goals to and monitoring the solution

Each research group will be required to present two seminars and to develop a research project proposal. You will also need to submit an individual tutorial reflection. The requirements for these assessment items are provided below. So for this part of the course your assessment will involve:

Group work with the following items:

  • Seminars (10% in total)
  • Research project proposal (25%)
  • Individual work:
  • Tutorial reflection (15%)

Proposal seminar (5%):

During the proposal seminar (week 7) you will present your research project in relation to the tutorial sessions on concept generation and searching internally/externally. Each group will have 5 minutes for their presentation, followed by 5 minutes for discussion and feedback.

The proposal seminar should include the following:

  • A brief summary of the nature and significance of the environmental problem you are investigating
  • Your key idea: your research idea and approach to the complexity of your problem at this stage of the project
  • Next steps and challenges

Final seminar (5%):

The final seminar (week 12) presents the key elements of your research proposal. As with the proposal seminar, each group will have 5 minutes for their presentation, followed by 5 minutes for discussion and feedback.

The final seminar should include the following:

  • A brief recap of the environmental problem you are investigating
  • The key elements of your research project proposal, including a justification for your approach
  • How your approach to the problem has developed and evolved since your proposal seminar (including how you have incorporated feedback)

Where an assignment is formed of a number of activities, the date range indicates the due date for the first component and the return date of the final component. Details are provided on the course Wattle site.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 30/10/2020
Return of Assessment: 20/11/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,3,4,5,6

Learning Portfolio

Research project proposal (2,500-3,500 words) (worth 25% of the total 40% allocated against this assessment item)

Your research project is an item of assessment that pulls together key elements of second part of the course (i.e. weeks 7-12 after the mid-semester break). Your research project proposal is essentially a scoping document that contains the key elements of a larger project (see the diagram below showing the “big” picture view of a research project)

Key elements:


This is a relatively short outline of your proposal. It is designed to summarize your thinking about your chosen topic and provide context for the literature review and research design.

Review of relevant literature:

This needs to be an information-dense and critical engagement with material relevant to your project;

You need to build a strong justification for your proposed research which draws upon key logic and readings for the course (e.g. Bardwell,1991) and sources you have identified through the tutorial process and additional searches by your group.

Research design (including proposed methods and data collection process):

Your research design is a concise description of how you would conduct your research project if it were to proceed.


This is the concluding section of your proposal, presenting a summary of key arguments and a justification for proceeding to a full project.

Appendix (optional – not included in word count):

This contains relevant supporting information

Individual Tutorial reflection (approximately 750-1000 words) (this stage is worth 15% of the total 40% allocated against this assessment item)

Revisit the notes you have taken in relation to each tutorial (e.g. seminars, in-class discussions with lecturer and fellow students, debrief notes you may have taken outside of class).

Reflect upon how you and your research partners have responded to feedback and material covered in the tutorials. To what extent did the tutorials and weeks 8-13 lectures assist you (individually and as a team) with unravelling and addressing the complexity associated with your topic?

Where an assignment is formed of a number of activities, the date range indicates the due date for the first component and the return date of the final component. Details are provided on the course Wattle site.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Via the course Wattle site.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Resubmission of assignments is not permitted.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Bruce Doran

Research Interests

Dr Bruce Doran

AsPr Lorrae Van Kerkhoff

Research Interests

Sociological Methodology And Research Methods, Sociology And Social Studies Of Science And Technology

AsPr Lorrae Van Kerkhoff

By Appointment
Dr Bruce Doran
+61 2 6125 4882

Research Interests

Dr Bruce Doran

AsPr Lorrae Van Kerkhoff
+61 2 6125 4882

Research Interests

AsPr Lorrae Van Kerkhoff

By Appointment
Dr Bruce Doran
+61 2 6125 4882

Research Interests

Dr Bruce Doran

Alexander Van Der Meer Simo

Research Interests

Alexander Van Der Meer Simo

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions