Partnering for impact on the SDGs: from local to global

A JCU Public seminar series

Cairns: Cairns Institute Lecture Theatre (D003-054)

Townsville: Science Place Lecture Theatre (142-111)

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address global challenges: poverty, inequality, climate, environmental change, prosperity, peace and justice.

In 2016, JCU became the first Australian university signatory to the SDGs. Through this commitment, JCU seeks to support and promote the principles of the SDGs through its research, teaching, and operations.

This seminar series seeks to demonstrate JCU’s impact on the SDGs from the local to the global. This series celebrates the applied research of JCU researchers and their external partners across Cairns, Townsville, the Wet Tropics, Northern Australia, and the Asia-Pacific. The 6-month program will include presentations on JCU’s large-scale projects led by senior researchers and our professorial team, and new and emergent projects being undertaken by PhD Candidates and Early Career Researchers.

Seminar 6 - Educational possibilities for the Sustainable Development Goals

4 - 5pm 26 September 2019 - followed by refreshments. This seminar will be presented from Cairns, video linked to Townsville.


Presentation 1 -  Transformational Learning and Global Citizenship Education for the SDGs: Evaluating International Service Learning Best Practice

Dr Kearrin Sims, Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science, College of Science and Engineering.

International Service Learning (ISL) has become a prevalent feature of both secondary and higher education in Australia. Motivations for engaging in ISL are diverse, but much of the recent enthusiasm in higher education stems from federal government funding schemes such as the New Colombo Plan and Endeavour Awards. In this presentation I consider what 'best practice’ in ISL might look like, as well as how ISL can contributed to the advancement of the SDGs. A wide body of literature demonstrates that ISL can offer transformative learning experiences that foster inclusive ‘cosmopolitan’ values of a shared sense of humanity and respect across (and for) socio/cultural difference. However, an equally wide body of literature contends that ISL programs have the potential to reinforce problematic, Eurocentric, understandings of race, culture, and inequality that position the non-Western ‘Other’ as inferior and/or dependent on Western charity. Approaching ISL from the normative standpoint that inclusive leadership requires an openness to alternative ways of knowing, interpreting and being in the world, this paper explores some of the key opportunities and pitfalls that must be negotiated in order for ISL to serve as a vehicle for advancing the SDGs - and particular Goal 4, Target 7. Deliberations presented in this paper draw on my ongoing research partnership with ISL provider Rustic Pathways Travel. Each year approximately 10,000 students undertake Rustic programs across 93 community projects in 19 countries. To date, research for this project has included case study analysis of two Rustic programs; interviewing with Rustic senior staff and program leaders, as well as students and participating teachers; participant observation, and; deconstructive analysis of Rustic’s learning resources and marketing materials. At the heart of this presentation is the question of how ISL may begin students on a journey towards more active and engaged citizenship for inclusive sustainable development.

Dr. Kearrin Sims is a critical development scholar with a particular interest in exclusionary forces, social equity, and connectivity in the Asian region. He is also interested in development studies pedagogy, South-South cooperation, decolonising development and urban transformations. Kearrin convenes James Cook University’s Master of Global Development and is the Chair of JCU’s Sustainable Development Working Group.

Presentation 2 - International Collaboration for Effective Inclusive Leadership within the Higher Education Sector of Papua New Guinea

Nicholas Roberts, PhD Candidate, The Cairns Institute James, Cook University
Dr. Scott R. Davis, Project Contributor, The Cairns Institute James, Cook University  
Murray Prideaux, Lecturer,  College of Business, Law & Governance, James Cook University
Dr Ora Renagi, Acting Vice Chancellor at PNG University of Technology

This paper considers how partnerships between international higher education institutions can enhance effective leadership within Papua New Guinea’s higher education sector. It will also consider the role of leadership in the development and maintenance of academic integrity and quality assurance processes to enrich teaching quality and graduate outcomes. The paper is based on the outcomes and learnings from a ‘twinning program’ between James Cook University (JCU) and the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (PNG UoT); a partnership that has been working to enhance academic quality in teaching and learning and institutional systemic capacity at the PNG UoT since 2016. This twinning partnership is focused on several outcomes/ areas, but notably: (1) strengthening systems, processes, structures and capabilities within PNG UoT for continuous academic quality improvement, and; (2) identifying ‘champions’ within the institution as future leaders of meaningful and sustainable long-term institutional strengthening and capacity development.
Building strong partnerships is integral to developing sustainable and realistic institutional change, as well as enhancing transparency through ongoing information exchange to strengthen governance and accountability systems and processes. However, promoting effective and sustainable leadership within PNG UoT and other academic institutions within Papua New Guinea is, challenged by post-independence national power structures, the cultural complexities of the WonTok system, and the rapid national social, cultural, and economic change occurring in a country experience significant transitions.  Accordingly, in this paper we reflexively interrogate our efforts to navigate the historical, cultural, and political context of the twinning program, in order to deliver more effective leadership for the enhancement of high-quality academic teaching and learning.