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On Teaching and Learning Resource and Environmental Management: reframing capacity building in multicultural settings

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This paper aims to improve preparation of stakeholders and affected interests for participation in natural resource management (NRM) processes. It argues that a reframing of relationships in multicultural NRM systems can improve individual and institutional capacities to think about and respond to intercultural domains. We argue that the professional toolkit needed to enhance the efficacy and openness of NRM must go beyond technical competence in science and economics to include a refined intercultural capacity amongst all involved. This does not refer to a unidirectional education of those perceived as lacking education, but a multi-directional capacity to reframe relationships, behaviours and practices. By reflecting on our diverse experiences of teaching and learning at the Comalco bauxite mine in far northern Queensland and in the university classroom in Sydney, we argue that a literacy in cultural landscapes is fundamental to this reframing of relationships. To use a metaphor that draws together a concern with both natural resources and geographical scale, it is simply not good enough to deal with both the forests and the trees: we also need to recognise the cultural landscapes in which both are embedded, and the cultural frames that give them different meanings.
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Keywords: Cape York Peninsula; Indigenous rights; Natural resource management; capacity building; sustainability

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Macquarie University, Australia

Publication date: March 1, 2006

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