• Class Number 6195
  • Term Code 3260
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Lorrae Van Kerkhoff
    • Dr Bruce Doran
    • Dr Craig Ashhurst
    • Prof Lorrae Van Kerkhoff
    • Dr Carina Wyborn
    • Chitresh Saraswat
    • Dr Craig Ashhurst
    • Dr Joseph Guillaume
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/07/2022
  • Class End Date 28/10/2022
  • Census Date 31/08/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/08/2022
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 'do-it-yourself'' case study selected by students and conducted as a group project, again in collaboration with local stakeholders. 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.     

Honours Pathway Option 

Subject to the approval of the course convenor; students taking this option will be expected to complete alternative weekly readings and to be prepared to discuss this advanced material in workshops and incorporate it into their major assignment/s. 

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Understand the methodological and practical challenges posed by complex environmental problems.
  2. Characterise and effectively describe the complex nature of environmental problems.
  3. Apply problem solving skills in environmental studies and environmental science, including problem framing, synthesis and critical reflection.
  4. Create innovative, collaborative research-based responses to complex environmental problems.
  5. Understand and apply effective stakeholder engagement practices.
  6. Understand and apply the case study approach to participate effectively in integrative, team-based research projects.

Research-Led Teaching

Students are engaged and active researchers throughout this course, developing the skills to apply transdisciplinary research skills to complex, multi-faceted problems.

Required Resources

Online access, zoom and related tools.

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:

  • 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.

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: Problem framing - Below Zero at ANU The ANU recently lunched it's adoption of the Below Zero carbon policy. We explore this as an opportunity to improve environmental management at ANU, how seeking carbon neutrality can be understood as a 'problem', and how the different ways of framing the problem may indicate different solutions. In teams of 4 or 5, you will hold an ‘kitchen table’ discussion (in person or online) to brainstorm ideas that address the question: What is the problem Beyond Zero is seeking to address? And analyse for whom, when, where, and how this problem arises. Students will be required to complete a template that presents a problem statement, and outlines three suggested solutions that are implied by that statement. They will then compare their own statement with that of another group, and reflect on the similarities and differences. Learning portfolio #1: Group work: the completed problem statement template, including analysis and suggested solutions. Individual work: short reflection on the comparison between your group's problem statement and suggested solutions and that of the other group you were paired with.
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 conservation. 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 aims to synthesise different perspectives to grow understanding and advance our thinking on these complex challenges. Learning portfolio #2: Individual work: Essay responding to the question posed by the Yawuru community Individual work: short reflection on the case study.
4 Weeks 7-12 Case study 3: Undergraduates: Water futures in the Murray-Darling Basin What can we learn from engaging with stakeholders and contributing to the challenges they face in addressing complex problems? This case study will allow students to work in small online groups directly with stakeholders involved in water management, water research or water use in the Murray-Darling Basin. Groups will be work on research project that addresses a topic the stakeholders are interested in. The students will work towards producing a stakeholder report or other negotiated deliverable for the project, however the main focus is on the processes of engaging, working together and learning from practice. The main assessment item, individual learning portfolios, will incorporate group pieces as well as individual reflections on the research process, and will be marked individually. Learning portfolio #3 Group work: weekly activities included per workshop schedule and final product. Individual work: reflections on project progress, activities

Tutorial Registration


Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Learning portfolio #1: Below Zero 15 % 19/08/2022 02/09/2022 1,2
Learning portfolio #2: Yawuru Essay and reflection 35 % 09/09/2022 28/09/2022 2,3,4,5
Learning Portfolio #3: Water Futures 50 % 28/10/2022 18/11/2022 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: 19/08/2022
Return of Assessment: 02/09/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Learning portfolio #1: Below Zero

The learning portfolio is a flexible tool that engages students in a process of continuous reflection and collaboration focused on selective evidence of learning. As written text, electronic display, or other creative project, the portfolio captures the scope, richness, and relevance of students’ intellectual development and academic skills. The portfolio provides a critical opportunity for purposeful, mentored reflections and analysis of evidence for both improvement and assessment of students’ learning.

Your learning portfolio is a collection of Evidence developed throughout the course that is engaged with through peer and mentor collaboration and individual reflection, and consolidates and demonstrates Learning. The aim of this assignment is to facilitate and document your learning as you progress through your DIY Case Study. It places your group work in the context of your individual learning. Your learning portfolio has two types of components: Evidence of work and Evidence of learning. These must relate to each other.


Aim: Build students’ skills and abilities in identifying and applying problem framing techniques, and analysing diversity in problem frames.

  • 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

  • Offer meaningful and useful contributions to ANU on achieving Beyond Zero goals.

The ANU has declared that it will be carbon neutral by 2025.

In class, in teams of 4 or 5, you will hold an online ‘kitchen table’ discussion to brainstorm ideas that address the question:

Is reducing carbon emissions a problem at ANU? and if so, how, for whom, when and where? On the basis of this problem statement, groups will identify three suggested solutions. They will then compare their template with that of one other group, and identify and discuss similarities and differences.

Your task: Learning portfolio #1

Your learning portfolio #1 has two components:

a. Group work - students will be required to work in an online group to complete a problem statement template (template is provided) that outlines their answers to the above questions and documents their proposed solutions. This is included in the learning portfolio. (700 words, 70% of total mark)

b. Individual work - Following the guidelines for reflections, write a short reflection for case study 1 that answers the following guiding questions: Did the 'kitchen table' exercise inform your approach to the template? how?; The case study was developed to demonstrate framing as a tool for revealing diverse ways of seeing a problem when it is ambiguous and open to interpretation. Do you think was achieved? (Why? / Why not?); Do you have any other lessons or insights from the case study? (word limit = 300 words, excluding any references, 30% of total mark)

Assessment Task 2

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 09/09/2022
Return of Assessment: 28/09/2022
Learning Outcomes: 2,3,4,5

Learning portfolio #2: Yawuru Essay and reflection

The primary purpose of this three week case is to learn that the complexity of issues can arise from the presence of diverse perspectives, and how to formulate an argument that synthesises across these diverse views. 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 land management on Yawuru country, focusing on a topic of the community's choice.

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 online 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. 


Individual work: Essay

  • 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.

Essay question: will be provided in class.

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

Worth 30 of 35 marks (86% of total mark).

Individual work: reflection

The aim of this case study was to learn how to formulate an argument about a complex issue that synthesises across a range of perspectives. Write a short reflection (word limit = 450 words, excluding references) that demonstrates your learning from this case study. You can use the following questions as guides, or write in an open format:

1. In what ways did your essay demonstrate a synthesis across different perspectives?

2. Given this case study is limited in time, resources, and by the classroom / online setting, if you were able to engage with this topic in more depth, what would you choose to do? How would this enable you to synthesise across diverse perspectives?

Worth 5 of 35 marks (14% of total mark).

Assessment Task 3

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 28/10/2022
Return of Assessment: 18/11/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,3,4,5,6

Learning Portfolio #3: Water Futures

Learning portfolio Case study 3: Water Futures

This learning portfolio includes a range of items related to your Water Futures case study. The objective of this case study is to engage fully with real-world problems and stakeholders, with a focus on learning through engagement, both by engaging with your group colleagues and with your clients. Each item in the portfolio must be accompanied by a short reflection that provides a personal commentary on what you learned, what you found challenging, and how you addressed those challenges, in relation to the item and the case study. In 2021, engagement both within your research groups and with clients will combine face-to-face and online participation. Client groups may be distant from ANU, and therefore conducted electronically.

Item 1: Stakeholder analysis (5%) Include a copy of the stakeholder analysis your group completed in Week 7. Write a short commentary (300 words) on how your group used this tool to better understand the complexity of the project.

Item 2: Tutorial progress report 1 (10%) As a group, prepare a 1 page progress report and accompanying 4 minute presentation to present in the week 8 workshop session. Include these in your portfolio as evidence. Choose some feedback comments your group received from peers as evidence. Other evidence may be included, e.g. planning materials, agreements, meeting notes, emails. If it is included you must refer to it and highlight how/why it is evidence of learning and/or challenges.

Write a reflection of up to 500 words that indicates what you have learned in the start-up phase of your case study, referring to your evidentiary materials and any other insights.

Item 3: Theory of change (5%) Include a copy of the theory of change document developed by your team in Week 9 of the workshop. Write a short commentary (300 words) on how your group used this tool to consider the direction and relevance of the outputs of the project.

Item 4: Tutorial progress report 2 (10%) As before, as a group, prepare a 1 page progress report and/or accompanying 4 minute presentation to present in the week 10 workshop session. Include these in your portfolio as evidence. Choose some feedback comments your group received from peers as evidence. Other evidence may be included, e.g. data collection strategies, meeting notes, emails. If it is included you must refer to it in your reflection and highlight how/why it is evidence of learning and/or challenges. Write a reflection of up to 500 words that indicates what you have learned in the research phase of your project, referring to your evidentiary materials and any other insights.

Item 5: Stakeholder report or other agreed deliverable (50%) As a group, prepare a report for your client (format to be negotiated with your client). Include this in your portfolio as evidence. Other evidence may be included, e.g. client feedback, meeting notes, emails. If it is included you must refer to it in your reflection and highlight how/why it is evidence of learning and/or challenges.

Item 6: Final reflection (20%) Write a reflection of up to 1000 words that indicates what you have learned in the concluding phase of your project, referring to your stakeholder report and any other insights. You may also reflect on the whole project experience and how the case study has contributed to the objective of learning by doing, and the broader aims of the course.


Length = Total: less than 30 pages, including all evidence

See Wattle for a detailed rubric and assessment criteria.

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.

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).

Prof Lorrae Van Kerkhoff

Research Interests

Research, Science And Technology Policy, Environmental Science And Management, Environmental Education And Extension, Environmental Sociology, Social Change, Sociological Methodology And Research Methods, Sociology And Social Studies Of Science And Technology

Prof Lorrae Van Kerkhoff

By Appointment
Dr Bruce Doran

Research Interests

Dr Bruce Doran

Dr Craig Ashhurst

Research Interests

Dr Craig Ashhurst

Prof Lorrae Van Kerkhoff

Research Interests

Prof Lorrae Van Kerkhoff

By Appointment
Dr Carina Wyborn

Research Interests

Dr Carina Wyborn

Chitresh Saraswat

Research Interests

Chitresh Saraswat

Dr Craig Ashhurst

Research Interests

Dr Craig Ashhurst

Dr Joseph Guillaume

Research Interests

Dr Joseph Guillaume

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