Australian Indigenous Knowledge in the Undergraduate Teaching Laboratory




The introduction of Indigenous knowledges (IK) and perspectives to the curriculum is an important step in decolonising the curriculum, and in reconciliation. This study explored the impact of a short laboratory project in the context of a traditional Aboriginal remedy (bush medicine), on final year Analytical Chemistry students. Samples were taken from the Sandpaper fig both off- and on-country, and students designed their own investigation to determine whether the chemicals present differed with location. The activity required no dedicated cultural awareness training, and did not involve student interaction with an Indigenous academic. A video made by one of the authors supported the students’ cultural learning and understanding. The findings indicate that the students displayed a respectful consideration of IK and Indigenous perspectives. However, the students’ inherent aversion to the idea of combining Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledges, meant that they did not effectively bring Indigenous perspectives to bear within their own investigation. Students believed that the inclusion of Indigenous methods of inquiry in a modern laboratory setting made the IK feel inauthentic. We provide recommendations for more structured approaches to learning when integrating IK/perspectives and Western Scientific practices to allow students to comfortably navigate through IK within a modern context.

Author Biographies

Angela Ziebell, Monash University Deakin University

Senior Lecturer School of Chemistry

Tina L Overton, Monash University Leeds University

Professor of Chemistry Education (Retired)

Tyson Yunkaporta, Deakin University

Senior Lecturer Indigenous knowledges






Research Articles