Professional education in postcolonial democracies: Indigenous rights, universities, and graduate attributes

Zane Ma Rhea, PhD


This paper examines the nexus between Indigenous rights, the modern
university, and graduate attributes and theorises the potential of the
university in postcolonial democracies to address Indigenous rights in its
professional education programs. It posits the postcolonial professional
as one who has been educated about internationally recognised human
rights and economic justice mechanisms, provisions and frameworks
within a supportive university policy environment that has focussed both
academic work and the formulation of graduate attributes in order that
new professionals, emerging from the modern university, will have the
skills and knowledge to proactively contribute to the engagement of the
professions within postcolonial states.
In an era where government funding for universities is becoming
increasingly tied to them being able to help businesses and governments to
achieve desirable socioeconomic outcomes, and with myriad government
policy drivers focussed on improvement of provision of opportunities
and services to Indigenous and other traditionally oriented communities
globally, this paper investigates the link between graduate attributes
and a university’s organisational culture to examine the capacity of
professional education in the modern university and the new graduates
it produces to reorientate from a colonial to a postcolonial engagement
with Indigenous peoples. The paper describes international corporate
social justice and Indigenous rights mechanisms and their significance
for the education of professionals. The paper finds that a university focus
on graduate attributes has an influence.

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