International scholars call for sustainable integration of Indigenous knowledge systems in doctoral education | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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International scholars call for sustainable integration of Indigenous knowledge systems in doctoral education

Indigenous Knowledge Systems in South Africa and Australia: Transforming Doctoral Education is the focus of a recent article by an international team of scholars, including ourselves—Professors Maria Raciti and Catherine Manathunga from the UniSC Indigenous and Transcultural Research Centre. Our article argues that doctoral education can be transformed into a key site for decolonising higher education by incorporating Indigenous theories and methodologies to challenge the colonial, assimilationist legacy that dominates education at all levels.

We highlight the need for intensive dialogue and robust conceptual outlooks to understand the complexities of incorporating Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) into higher education. Drawing on the theoretical approaches of de Sousa Santos, Odora Hoppers, Visvanathan, and First Nations Australian scholars Williams, Bunda, Claxton, and McKinnon, we engaged in a transcultural and transdisciplinary dialogue to explore how discourses and debates about IKS are understood in the different historical and cultural contexts of South Africa and Australia.

The article presents a polyvocal, multimodal approach, with the South African team applying Bacchi’s approach of problem formulation and policy as a change proposal to discourses about IKS in South African policy documents. Meanwhile, the Australian team demonstrates how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge systems work through the power of stories via an ethnographic policy analysis and narratives linked to the Australian doctoral education context.

We argue that sustainable approaches to incorporating IKS into the academy require ongoing dialogue and engagement with First Nations communities. The article provides suggested principles for the sustainable integration of IKS in doctoral education, highlighting the importance of understanding the different historical and cultural contexts in which IKS are situated and the need for a polyvocal, multimodal approach to effectively integrate IKS into higher education.

Overall, the article offers a timely and important contribution to the ongoing conversation about the importance of incorporating IKS into higher education, particularly doctoral education. By highlighting the complexities and challenges of this process, the team of scholars provide valuable insights and recommendations for moving beyond tokenism and towards a more sustainable and transformative approach to incorporating IKS into higher education.

Professor Maria Raciti and Professor Catherine Manathunga