TK & Higher Education

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Home » Thematic Areas » Communications » TK & Higher Education

TK & Higher Education


Lack of access to and participation in higher education is a serious problem across the world, particularly for indigenous people. Research highlights the importance of developing strategies and methodologies for bridging traditional knowledge (TK) and western science.

The TK and Higher Education project explores the integration of indigenous knowledge in higher education programmes through relevant topics and methodologies in an attempt to gain recognition and valuation for traditional knowledge in academic and scientific circles. Ongoing activities include working with indigenous and academic partners in Australia to facilitate indigenous peoples’ access to tertiary education and to develop educational programs based on indigenous knowledge, culture and values. Documenting and recognizing Traditional knowledge within academia is an important step in finding points of convergence between western scientific and traditional indigenous understanding.

Current Activities

The United Nations University - Institute of Advanced Studies Traditional Knowledge Initiative (UNU-IAS TKI), in collaboration with Gaia University and the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA), has developed pilot project to address indigenous people’s marginalisation from higher education.

The project focuses on developing effective templates for recognizing and validating existing knowledge among indigenous peoples, developing culturally appropriate learning pathways and awarding accredited degrees based on peer reviewed evidence of prior and ongoing learning. The pilot programme will work with Aboriginal leaders already involved in NAILSMA’s Indigenous Community Water Facilitator Network, guiding them to obtain higher education degrees through topics and methodologies that could be applied to other projects in Aboriginal communities as well as in with Indigenous groups in other countries.

Key questions to be addressed in the pilot project include:

  • How can higher education degrees and action-learning methodologies empower Aboriginal peoples?
  • What are the community’s beliefs, attitudes, visions and aspirations towards higher education degrees?
  • Is there an interest/need in higher education degrees in Aboriginal communities?
  • What are the enabling factors and constraints on offering higher education degrees and action learning pathways to Aboriginal peoples?
  • Is there a potential for action-learning methodologies to be applied within communities to other Aboriginal issues and interest?
  • Is this a good strategy to promote a creative cross breeding between Traditional Knowledge and conventional education mainstream?

Publications, Reports

TKI publications include:


See also:

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