Advancing lndigenous knowledges can empower all students to be critically informed agents for change according to UTS Associate Professor in Social and Political Sciences Heidi Norman, the recipient of this year's Neville Bonner Award for Indigenous Education.
Associate Professor Norman was among 18 individuals across many disciplines including, science, the arts, Indigenous studies, psychology, business, health and journalism to receive honours in the Australian Awards for University Teaching last week in Canberra.
Presented by the Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham, the awards celebrate individuals and groups who have made outstanding contributions to enhancing student learning outcomes and equipping students to be agile and creative citizens.
Associate Professor Norman teaches into the Social and Political Sciences major and Aboriginal Studies elective in the Bachelor of Communication program in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
Her research focuses on Aboriginal social, cultural, economic and political history. This has included a recent political history of Aboriginal land rights in NSW and in earlier work a history of the NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout.
"Heidi Norman has made a significant contribution to teaching and learning at UTS," said Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students) Professor Shirley Alexander.
"Her student-focused approach to teaching is matched by her passion and enthusiasm to actively teach Aboriginal content and perspectives within a wider current of ideas, action and scholarship.
"Her approach to classroom practice and curriculum development has been recognised with a UTS team teaching award and she has worked collaboratively on three national projects to develop effective approaches to teaching Aboriginal studies," Professor Alexander said.
"It has long been my understanding that in order to effect change for Aboriginal people it is necessary for new conversations to take place," Associate Professor Norman said. "University classrooms are ideal places to begin those conversations.
"A key feature of my approach to teaching is not be constrained by the Aboriginal studies field, but rather to see Aboriginal worlds as offering enormous theoretical and professional practice insights.
"The development of an Indigenous graduate attribute at UTS will take this approach to the whole university.
"I want to give students the confidence to move beyond the academy to be advocates and commentators in the public sphere… to be active public intellectuals and lifelong learners."
The award is named for Neville Bonner AO (1922-1999), the first Indigenous Australian in Federal Parliament, representing Queensland as a Liberal Party Senator from 1971 to 1983. UTS's Professor Larissa Behrendt was the joint recipient of the inaugural Neville Bonner Award for Indigenous Education in 2002 with Professor Marcia Langton of the University of Melbourne.