Graduate Certificate and Diploma courses in Integrated Human Studies are now open for applications. Graduates of any faculty can choose on campus or online options.
Professor Bruce and a team of colleagues at UWA have developed courses in the new field, Integrated Human Studies, that directly address 21st century challenges
Professor Bruce believes that science and technology have contributed rapidly and massively to human development in the 20th century, but that their effects have brought us to the brink of ruin. Massive, complex problems like resource depletion, climate change, poverty and inequity threaten the very survival of humans and the planet - and many universities continue to deliver the same old discipline-based or vocationally focused education. Professor Graeme Martin, also of UWA, says, "We get some of the brightest minds in the country, and they come in wanting to change the world - and we teach them maths." He adds that of course the world needs mathematicians, "but most young people need a context for which they can justify the need to learn the maths. The same applies to any other fundamental discipline."
Integrated Human Studies delivers a transdisciplinary perspective and methodologies. It draws on science, the arts and humanities, and implementing disciplines like economics and law to consider local and global issues and "wicked problems" that defy narrow analysis.
The courses take as their starting point the idea that in order to consider human futures, it is necessary to understand human natures and cultures, our evolutionary and historical origins and our values and beliefs. It is also imperative to understand the current status of humans on this planet. Professor Bruce says an embarrassingly large proportion of tertiary students cannot say what the earth's population is. "How can you take your place in society as an informed citizen voting on complex issues without such basic facts?" he asks. "Australia needs to formulate policies relating to immigration, welfare, housing, land management and more. Policy makers need to understand the global issues and pressures, and leaders and voters all need to make informed decisions."
The Australian Public Service Commission recognised the need for a different approach to solving very complex policy problems, known as "wicked problems". The commissioner at the time, Lynelle Briggs, said wicked problems "require thinking that is capable of grasping the big picture, including the interrelationships among the full range of causal factors underlying them. They often require broader, more collaborative and innovative approaches."1
The curriculum design team at UWA's Centre for Integrated Human Studies has built these skills into their course content and delivery. Their on-campus and online courses make full use of up-to-date and authoritative information, and use Web 2.0 technologies and a range of analytical software in activities to develop transdisciplinary and collaborative research skills. Postgraduate students bring their own disciplinary approaches, and those in the workforce have "real-world" experience to contribute to group projects.
For information about applying to enrol in Integrated Human Studies courses, phone Steve Johnson on 6488 2324, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Tackling Wicked Problems: A Public Policy Perspective. Australian Public Service Commission, 2007.