• Class Number 4528
  • Term Code 3130
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Sean Kerins
    • Dr Sean Kerins
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2021
  • Class End Date 28/05/2021
  • Census Date 31/03/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
    • Kate Harriden
    • Sam Provost
SELT Survey Results

This course introduces students to fundamental aspects of Indigenous relationships to lands, waters and cultural sites. It will provide students with an overview of holistic Indigenous perspectives about the natural environment, their knowledge systems and understandings of it, as well as the legal and policy frameworks of the settler society which frame Indigenous opportunities to actively engage in cultural and natural resource management. It will explore areas of contestation and collaboration between Indigenous natural resources users and other Australians through a series of case studies of land and water management, and will include an opportunity for fieldwork on country learning to understand more about Indigenous knowledge and understandings of country. The course will also provide students with an opportunity to consider how to engage successfully with Indigenous peoples in many land or natural resource management issues.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Understand Indigenous perspectives and knowledge systems in relation to land, waters, natural resources and cultural heritage, and explain how these may vary from western scientific perspectives, and what is required to bring both systems into play in land, sea and natural resource management.
  2. Describe the different elements of the Indigenous estate, its legal underpinnings and the opportunities it provides Indigenous people to engage in land, sea and natural resource management.
  3. Analyse different approaches to engaging Indigenous people in land, sea and natural resource management, in terms of how well they meet Indigenous aspirations.
  4. Identify key considerations in approaching engagement with Indigenous people in a land/sea-related or natural resource management projects.
  5. Develop skills to engage effectively in cross-cultural environmental management.

Research-Led Teaching

This is a collaborative inter-cultural course taught with some of our Indigenous research partners. The course draws on our many years of research as participatory action researchers working with Indigenous peoples. However, because of COVID-19, travel restrictions and several of our long-term Indigenous research and teaching partners who have taught with us for the past 6 years will not be able to participate. Further, the homelands where they live have limited or no internet connections.

Field Trips

Unfortunately, because of COVID-19 we are not able to plan for on-Country field trips hosted by Indigenous people this year.

Examination Material or equipment


Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements


Staff Feedback

  • Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course: on assignments, and in class workshops.

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.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 INTRODUCING COUNTRY AND ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLES AND SETTLER COLONIALISM Required readings Keen, I., 2006.‘Control of the Means of Production’ (Chapter 9), in Keen, I., Aboriginal Economy and Society, Australia at the Threshold of Colonisation, Oxford University Press. Pascoe, B. 2014. ‘Agriculture’ (Chapter 1) Dark Emu Black Seeds: Agriculture or accident? Magabala Books. Supplementary readings Altman, J.C., Buchanan, G. and Larsen, L. (2007) ‘The environmental significance of the Indigenous estate: Natural resource management as economic development in remote Australia’, Discussion Paper No. 286, CAEPR, ANU, Canberra. Online resources High resolution maps from ‘The environmental significance of the Indigenous estate’
2 THE INVASION AND DISPOSSESSION AN EVENT OR A STRUCTURE? Required readings Green, J. Morrison, J. and Kerins, S. (2012), 'No more yardin' us up like cattle', in Jon Altman and Seán Kerins (eds.), People on Country: Vital Landscapes, Indigenous Futures, The Federation Press, Sydney, pp. 190—201. Roberts, T. (2009) ‘The Brutal Truth: What Happened in the Gulf Country’, The Monthly, November, No. 51. Supplementary Readings Rose, D.B., 1996. Nourishing terrains: Australian Aboriginal views of landscape and wilderness. Australian Heritage Commission
3 WILDERNESS, NATIONAL PARKS, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND POLITICAL ECOLOGY Required readings Langton, M. 1995 ‘Art, wilderness and terra nullius’, In Ecopolitics IX - Conference Papers and Resolutions, Northern Land Council, Darwin. Mar, T.B., 2010. ‘Carving wilderness: Queensland’s national parks and the unsettling of emptied Lands, 1890–1910’. In Making Settler Colonial Space, Palgrave Macmillan, London pp. 73-94. Supplementary readings Adams, M., 2008 ‘Foundational Myths: Country and conservation in Australia’, Transforming Cultures eJournal, Vol. 3 No 1, February 2008. Haynes, C. 2013 ‘Seeking control: Disentangling the difficult sociality of Kakadu National Park’s joint management’, Journal of Sociology, Volume 49(2-3): 194–209/ Additional Resources Bauman, T., Stacey, C. and Lauder G. 2012. Report Joint management of protected areas in Australia: native title and other pathways towards a community of practice: Workshop report, NTRU Research Report, AIATSIS, Canberra.
4 CARING FOR COUNTRY, INDIGENOUS PROTECTED AREAS Required readings Davies, J., Walker, J. and Maru, Y.T., 2018. Warlpiri experiences highlight challenges and opportunities for gender equity in Indigenous conservation management in arid Australia. Journal of Arid Environments, 149, pp.40-52. Marika, B. Munyarryun, B. Munyarryun, B. Marawili, M. Marika, W. and Kerins, S. 2012, 'Ranger djama? Manymak!', in Jon Altman and Seán Kerins (eds.), People on Country: Vital Landscapes, Indigenous Futures, The Federation Press, Sydney, pp. 132—145. Supplementary readings Hancock, D. (2012) ‘Return to Country’ Australian Geographic, 110 Sep—Oct 2012, pp 58-69. May, K., 2010. Indigenous cultural and natural resource management and the emerging role of the Working on Country program. Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research Working Paper 65, Australian National University. Moritz, C., Ens, E. J., Potter, S. and Catullio R. A. 2013. ‘The Australian monsoonal tropics: An opportunity to protect unique biodiversity and secure benefits for Aboriginal communities’, Pacific Conservation Biology Vol. 19: 343–355. Preuss, K and Dixon, M. (2012) ‘Looking after country two-ways’: Insights into Indigenous community-based conservation from the Southern Tanami’. Ecological Management & Restoration Vol. 13, (1). Smyth, D (2009) 'Just add water? Taking Indigenous Protected Areas into sea country', in D Smyth & G Ward (eds), Protecting Country Indigenous Governance and Management of Protected Areas, proceedings of the AIATSIS Conference 2007, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra, 95-110.
5 Indigenous peoples, water justice and water bodies Required Readings Weir, J. 2016. ‘Hope and Farce: Indigenous Peoples’ Water reforms during the Millennium Drought, In Vincent, E. and Neale, T.,(eds) 2016. Unstable relations: a critical appraisal of indigeneity and environmentalism in contemporary Australia. UWA Publishing. Supplementary readings Jackson, S. and Altman, J., 2009. Indigenous rights and water policy: perspectives from tropical northern Australia. Australian Indigenous L. Rev., 13, p.27-48.
6 SUSTAINABLE USE, HUNTING AND DATA GATHERING AND COMMON POOL RESOURCES Required readings Altman, J. and Kerins, S. 2013, ‘Banning Indigenous hunting won’t help dugongs’ The Conversation, April 16. Marsh, H. 2013, ‘Dugongs are safer in Torres Strait than Townsville’, The Conversation, May 10. Thiriet, D. and Smith, R. 2013 ‘In the name of culture: dugong hunting is simply cruel’, The Conversation, 8 April. Marsh, H. 2016, 'Traditional hunting gets headlines, but is not the big threat to turtles and dugongs', The Conversation, December 6. Supplementary reading Altman, Jon. Arnhem Land Buffalo [online]. Arena Magazine (Fitzroy, Vic), No. 140, Feb/Mar 2016: 38-41. Buchanan, G. with Altman, J.C., Arthur, W.S., Oades, D. and the Bardi Jawi Rangers. 'Always Part of Us': The Socioeconomics of Indigenous Customary Use and Management of Dugong and Marine Turtles-A View from Bardi and Jaw Sea Country, Western Australia, Final Report to North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance, and Tropical Savannas CRC, 121pp.
7 CULTURAL HERITAGE MANAGEMENT AND CULTURAL MAPPING Required readings McLean,N. 2013, ‘Githabul approaches to mapping culture’ in, S. Brockwell, S. O’Connor & D. Byrne, Transcending the Culture–Nature Divide in Cultural Heritage, Terra Australis, 36, ANU Epress, pp 83-99. Libby Porter (2006) Rights or Containment? The politics of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria, Australian Geographer, 37:3, pp 355-374 Additional Resources Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area Cultural Heritage Management Plan 2009 to 201 Historic conviction of miner for desecrating sacred site Bootu Creek Decision Schnierer E, Ellsmore S and Schnierer S. State of Indigenous cultural heritage 2011. Report prepared for the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities on behalf of the State of the Environment 2011 Committee. Canberra: DSEWPaC, 2011.
8 ABORIGINAL FIRE MANAGEMENT – CASE STUDIES FROM THE NT AND THE ACT Required readings Neale, T., Carter, R., Nelson, T. and Bourke, M., 2019. ‘Walking together: a decolonising experiment in bushfire management on Dja Dja Wurrung country’. Cultural Geographies, (2019) pp. 1-19. Williamson, B, 2017, ‘Reigniting Cultural Burning in South-Eastern Australia: The ACT Aboriginal Cultural Fire Initiative’ Native Title Newsletter, Issue 2, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. Yibarbuk, D., Whitehead, P.J., Russell-Smith, J., Jackson, D., Godjuwa, C., Fisher, A., Cooke, P., Choquenot, D. and Bowman, D.M.J.S., 2001. Fire ecology and Aboriginal land management in central Arnhem Land, northern Australia: a tradition of ecosystem management. Journal of Biogeography, 28(3), pp.325-343.
9 WAYS OF KNOWING, INDIGENOUS ECOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE, BUILDING BRIDGES AND COMMUNITY-BASED PLANNING Required readings Kalarriya, J., Nabarlambarl, P.B., Namunjdja, D. N. 2017. ‘Bininj Elder Jimmy Kalarrira talks about emus with Peter Biless Nabarlambarl and Don Nakadilinj Namunjdja at Manmooyi Outstation’ in Garde, M (ed.) 2017, Something About Emus, Bininj Stories from Western Arnhem Land. Aboriginal Studies Press. Walsh, F. & Mitchell, P. (2002) ‘Participatory Planning’, in Walsh, F. & Mitchell, P (eds) Planning for Country, Cross Cultural approaches to decision-making on Aboriginal Lands, Jukurrpa Books, Alice Springs. Supplementary Readings Ens, E.J., Cooke, P., Nadjamerrek, R., Namundja, S., Garlngarr, V. and Yibarbuk, D., 2010. Combining Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal knowledge to assess and manage feral water buffalo impacts on perennial freshwater springs of the Aboriginal-owned Arnhem Plateau, Australia. Environmental Management, 45(4), pp.751-758. Garde, M (ed.) 2017, Something About Emus, Bininj Stories from Western Arnhem Land. Aboriginal Studies Press. Green, D., Billy, J. and Tapim, A., 2010. Indigenous Australians’ knowledge of weather and climate. Climatic Change, 100 (2), pp.337-354. Telfer, W.R. and Garde, M.J., 2006. Indigenous knowledge of rock kangaroo ecology in western Arnhem Land, Australia. Human Ecology, 34(3), pp.379-406.
10 A Case Study of the Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation's Aboriginal Ranger Program Required readings TBC Supplementary Readings TBC
11 PLANNING WORKSHOP Required readings Berkes, F., 2007. Community-based conservation in a globalized world. Proceedings of the National academy of sciences, 104(39), pp.15188-15193. Whyte, K., 2013. ‘On the role of traditional ecological knowledge as a collaborative concept: a philosophical study’ Ecological Processes, 2013, 2:7.
12 ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT Required readings Altman, J.C. 2001. ‘Alternate Development for Indigenous Territories of Difference’ CAEPR Topical Issue No. 5/2011. Kerins, S. and Green, J. 2016, ‘Indigenous country in the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria: Territories of difference or indifference? In Sanders, W. (ed.) Engaging Indigenous Economy, Debating Diverse Approaches, CAEPR Research Monograph No. 35, ANU Press. Supplementary Reading Martinez-Alier, J., 2003. The Environmentalism of the poor: a study of ecological conflicts and valuation. Edward Elgar Publishing

Tutorial Registration


Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Positionality Statement 20 % 19/03/2021 01/04/2021 1,2,3,4,5
Workshop Participation 20 % * * 1,2,3,4,5
Briefing paper 20 % 28/04/2021 22/05/2020 1,2,3,4,5
Individual essay 40 % 27/05/2021 19/06/2020 1,2,3,4,5

* 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 ANU Online website. 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.


It is a requirement that you attend the class (seminars and workshops). If you are unable to fulfil this requirement you will need to discuss this with a Course Convener and produce appropriate documentation (e.g. a medical certificate).



Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 19/03/2021
Return of Assessment: 01/04/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Positionality Statement

You are to write a brief positionality statement outlining your position relative to the field of Indigenous cultural and natural resource management.

The purpose of the positionality statement is to articulate your experiences and how they shape your world-view, as well as how you understand the ‘environment’ and your relationship to nature.

You will choose a field of research (Indigenous customary natural resource use, Indigenous histories, Country, water, nature, ‘wilderness’, national parks etc.) from the course to use as a means of positioning yourself. Imagine that you are one of the researchers/practitioners working with the community on Country in this field and detail your positionality in relation to this.

Some questions you could examine include:

·        What is your cultural background? Where is your family from?

·        What knowledge do you already hold about the field of research?

·        Where does this knowledge come from?

·        How might your experiences be different from your research partners?

·        What are your experiences of ethnicity, gender, geography, language and education that influence your thinking? How have these shaped your understanding of Indigenous peoples, histories, places and natural resources?

·        Do you share any commonalities with the Indigenous collaborators? If so what are these shared experiences you could draw on?

·        Has your understandings of these fields of research developed or remained the same throughout the first half of this course? If so, how have they changed?

Keep in mind that this is not a stream-of-consciousness piece of writing. It must have structure and draw on class material to help you interrogate and frame your position. The assignment is to be no more than 1000 words, excluding references.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Workshop Participation


In the workshops we will do the following: engage with Indigenous guests, scenario planning; cultural mapping; monitor sites of environmental contestation between Indigenous peoples and the state; develop policy ideas; and unpack complex intercultural ideas.


It is a requirement that you attend and participate in the workshops that follow the lectures/seminar.

Students are expected to contribute on an on-going basis throughout the semester.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 28/04/2021
Return of Assessment: 22/05/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Briefing paper


When working with Indigenous peoples in cultural and environmental management activities place is always a central thing to consider. When going to work in a place (Country) with Indigenous peoples it is important to have some understanding of the environmental history of that place and its people. Who are the Indigenous peoples of the place? How did Indigenous people utilise and manage the environment? How did colonisers secure power over the land and waters? How has use of the land and waters changed since settler colonisers took control of the land and waters? Today, how is the land utilised, for what purposes, and what are the significant environmental issues? And, finally, how does this current management of the land and water impact on the Indigenous peoples of that place today?

The task:

The task is to write a short briefing paper that will be used to present to a group of co-workers/researchers, who will work with you in a particular area. You have been asked to pull some background material together that will be used to inform co-workers/researchers of the environmental and social history of a place.


To do this, choose a place. This may be a place where you grew up, a place you have often visited, a place where you or your family live, or a place that interests you. Find out who the Indigenous peoples are of the place, how they utilised the environment, how settler colonisers secured power, how the land and waters are used today as well as what the significant environmental issues are, and how the current management regime impacts on the Indigenous peoples of the place today.


  • Keep in mind this is a briefing paper with a maximum word length of 1500 words, excluding references. Please use the Harvard referencing system, with 1.5 spacing, size 12 font, with numbered pages and uni number on the front of the document.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 27/05/2021
Return of Assessment: 19/06/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Individual essay


The essay is designed to assist students learn critical thinking by drawing on examples for lectures, readings (from both the course and wider reading) and the fieldtrip to present an academic argument of their views.


Length and format: 2,500 words, Harvard referencing system, 1.5 spaced, size 12 font, with numbered pages and uni number on the front of the document.


Students will select one topic from the following areas (see Seán Kerins if you have other ideas you want to pursue):

sustainable use

the Indigenous estate

caring for country

joint management/protected area management

fresh water management

climate change

environmental justice

marine management (sea country) fisheries issues, or

cultural heritage

Alternate development.

And, then drawing on the readings, lectures and/or fieldtrips explore the critical issues which are causing contestation, or supporting collaboration, between Indigenous people and other Australians in this area. Then using one or more case studies relating to this aspect of land/sea and cultural and natural resource management, explore barriers Indigenous people may encounter and how Indigenous values can be best incorporated into cultural and natural resource management in this area, and what conditions would facilitate this happening?

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 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.

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

Assignments cannot be resubmitted after the submission date.

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 Sean Kerins

Research Interests

Political ecology; Indigenous Peoples rights; conservation and biodiversity; environmental justice; community-based management

Dr Sean Kerins

By Appointment
Dr Sean Kerins

Research Interests

Dr Sean Kerins

By Appointment
Kate Harriden

Research Interests

Kate Harriden

Sam Provost

Research Interests

Sam Provost

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