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Real world practice: critical, socially inclusive design

O'Donnell, M., Wallace, M., Melano, A., Lawson, R. and Leinonen, E. (2015) Real world practice: critical, socially inclusive design. In: 5th International Practice based Education Summit, 15 - 16 April 2015, Sydney, Australia.


Various approaches to authentic learning with “real-world” applications have been significant areas of educational scholarship and practice over the last decade. This has led to increasing emphasis on practice-based curriculum, an employability focus in undergraduate education, and the increase of workplace-integrated learning opportunities. This approach has been shown to both increase student engagement and enhance graduate career readiness. But this approach has also been critiqued as an unnecessarily market driven, neo-liberal system which ignores the traditional critical role of the university. Several scholars have proposed models such as “social critical vocationalism” (Peach 2013) and the “socially entrepreneurial university” (Denny et al 2012) as models which respond to both the market realities of contemporary higher education and its historic connections to ideas of public good, criticality and community engagement. The University of Wollongong Curriculum Transformation Project (CTP) draws on these holistic and inclusive ideas of a university: one that delivers market ready graduates with a critical, socially inclusive perspective. At the heart of the UOW Curriculum Model are three curriculum design principles: transition, synthesis and broadening. These principles link to four curriculum themes: a real-world focus, underpinned by research/enquiry led learning activities that are technology enriched and intellectually challenging. This paper will explore the intersection of the Real World theme and the principle of Broadening which focuses on developing socially engaged, interdisciplinary and intercultural perspectives. This dual focus equips graduates as both flexible emerging professionals and critical global citizens.

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