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CSC welcomes four international scholars!


The Centre for Sustainable Communities welcomes the arrival of four international scholars in February! With extensive experience and expertise across diverse areas including physical education, rural education, self-regulation in learning among many others, the CSC looks forward to learning from and working collaboratively with these accomplished academics.

Kevin Richards

Kevin Andrew Richards

Kevin Andrew Richards is an Associate Professor of Physical Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Previously, he worked at the University of Alabama and Northern Illinois University after completing a PhD and post-doctoral study at Purdue University. In his current position at Illinois, Richards teaches undergraduate and graduate coursework, and is engaged in doctoral student supervision and mentoring.

Richards’ scholarship focuses on the recruitment, education, and ongoing socialization of physical education teachers. He also coordinates and conducts research on physical activity programs that seek to promote social and emotional learning, primarily through the teaching of the personal and social responsibility model. His work has been published and presented internationally, and he is currently serving as the incoming editor for the Journal of Teaching in Physical Education.


Bernadette van Berk

Bernadette van Berk is an educational researcher at DIPF | Leibniz Institute for educational research and information in Frankfurt, Germany. She is currently engaged in research on self-regulated learning of primary school students. Her research investigates what abilities or contextual variables are related to self-regulation in learning (SRL) and how this important capacity can be fostered most effectively. In addition to research on SRL, she is also interested in mental disorders and learning difficulties of children and is therefore undergoing a training program to become a child and adolescent psychotherapist.

In her PhD project PuS-SeL (Problem solving and Strategies - Self-regulation in Learning), supervised by Dr. Charlotte Dignath, she investigates the self-regulation ability of young learners by using multiple methods as interviews, tests, questionnaires and think-aloud tasks. Besides students, parents and teachers are also included in her research. In her current study Bernadette is investigating the effects of child-friendly explanatory videos and learning journals to promote self-regulated learning of young learners.


Dipane Hlalele

Dipane Hlalele is a Professor of Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) and a C2 NRF rated researcher (2022-2027) who appears in the World Top 100 Education Scientists in South Africa, 2022 (AD Scientific Index). Prior to joining UKZN as an associate professor in 2017, he was an assistant dean and senior lecturer at the UFS, a college of education lecturer and a high school deputy principal and teacher. He was a principal- and co-investigator in the Community engagement in rural contexts: a relational leadership strategy (2017-2019); Sustainable urban-rural learning connections (2017-2018) National Research Foundation (NRF)-funded projects respectively. Prior to this, he was a principal investigator in Sustainable rural learning ecologies, Sustainable Futures for the People of the Afromontane and a co-investigator in the Adaptive leadership in community engagement and service learning NRF funded projects respectively. The accrued value of these projects is R2.7 million.  His current research interest draws from positive and community psychology as well as education and he therefore strive for and advocates helpful, hopeful and respectful research. He currently sits on the editorial boards of the Journal of Education (JoE), Journal of Educational Studies (JES) as well as the Australian and International Journal of Rural Education (AIJRE). He is currently Ethics Chair: Human and Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee at UKZN. He also served as Maluti TVET college council chairperson, President of the Education Association of South Africa, a member of national teams that developed the rural education policy as well as inclusive teaching standards for beginner teachers.


Antonia Fischer

Antonia Fischer is a German psychologist and educational researcher. After completing her master’s degree in Cognitive Psychology, Learning and Work at the University of Freiburg, she is currently pursuing her PhD in psychology in the field of promotion of Self-Regulated Learning (SRL). Antonia is especially interested in how SRL is promoted in different countries and cultures and will visit Australia in the beginning of 2023 to look into similarities and differences of teachers’ SRL promotion in both countries.

Her PhD topic is the promotion of self-regulated learning. More specifically, she is interested in how teachers in lower grades (first through eighth grade) promote their students’ SRL directly by promoting learning strategies as well as indirectly by creating learning environments that help students use self-regulated learning strategies. Two studies have been conducted so far. In the first one, we developed an in-depth interview that assesses teachers’ SRL promotion which we then used for conducting phone interviews with teachers. In addition, teachers filled out online questionnaires on their own SRL usage, their SRL knowledge, their school’s SRL support and ICT knowledge and infrastructure. In the second study, we are currently investigating whether (student) teachers’ SRL usage can be fostered by short modeling videos and how these videos should be designed to best promote participants’ SRL. Antonia’s PhD is supervised by Dr. Charlotte Dignath.

CSC researcher supporting families at the start of the school year


Associate Professor Deborah Pino-Pasternak participated in a radio interview for Canberracast iHeart Radio on Monday 30.01.2023. The purpose of the interview was to discuss how adults can support children to manage nervous feelings as they start school, as well as supporting adults in managing their own anxieties.

As children commence their school years, a number of them face anxiety in preparation for the first day. Dr Deborah Pino-Pasternak is an expert in children’s development of self-regulation, a set of skills that allow individuals to become self-aware of and manage their behaviours, emotions, and ways of learning. This skill set grows dramatically in the early years and is responsive to adult support. Given that a significant number of families have faced two or three years of disruptions in school journeys associated with the global pandemic, it is critical to support them to effectively identify emotional triggers, as well as use strategies to understand, accept and process emotions in healthy ways.

In the interview (available below), Dr Pino-Pasternak emphasised the importance of routines and predictability to minimise sources of anxiety in children and families as they prepare for school. “Visiting the school grounds in advance, getting to know the teachers in advance if possible, preparing backpacks and lunchboxes, and having visual organisers (for example, a schedule on the fridge) can help reduce anxiety,” Dr Pino-Pasternak said. Dr Pino-Pasternak also emphasised the importance of ongoing and positive communication between adults and teachers. As Dr Pino-Pasternak explained: “the more families trust their teachers, the safer children will feel in the classroom.”

back to school
Photo credit: Deleece Cook on Unsplash

CSC and Communities Economies 2022 Collaborations


The 2022 Community Economies annual online conference was run in early November. The conference drew together individuals from across the international Community Economies Research Network (CERN). CERN is concerned with collaboratively building research and practice that bring about more sustainable and equitable forms of development by cultivating and acting on new ways of thinking about economies and politics. The conference, titled Liviana, is a series of events that are based on the sense of openness, free-floating train of thought, and cheerful spirit that the Spanish term connotes.

This year CSC members Dr Ann Hill and Shang Fuentes played a role in leading trains of thought in several sessions. Dr Hill helped facilitated an event celebrating and recognising the value of grassroots models of learning for more sustainable futures. HDR student Shang Fuentes also shared her key learnings from the Communities Economies summer school in discussion with her peers in one session and reflected on the question of scaling up communities’ economies in another. Both also spoke at the Community Economies Current Research in Asia session where they discussed their recent book chapter Asset-based Community Development in diverse social cultural contexts focusing on its application in Fuentes' PhD research.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the organising and running of the CERN events! To find out more about CERN, or watch previous Liviana sessions follow this link.

online conference

Dare to be Curious Faculty of Education November 2022 Conference


In November the Faculty of Education held its annual conference. This year’s conference theme ‘Dare to be Curious: Finding value in research’ embedded the new University of Canberra’s values.

Across the two days several Centre for Sustainable Community members presented their research work. On the first morning Associate Professor Deborah Pino-Pasternack reflected on self-regulation for families’ and early childhood educators and Dr Jenny Dean discussed inequities in access to, and achievement in, the NSW senior secondary curriculum.

On the second day Natalie Downes discussed the ongoing issue of underrepresentation of rural students at universities and the importance of ensuring considered inclusion of rural knowledges in coursework and support services. The final CSC member to present was Dr Bernard Brown who spoke about the entanglement of policies, schools, teachers, and the Covid-19 crisis.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the conference and the Faculty of Education for putting together such a successful advent full of shared learning!

FoE conference

New CSC Monograph: Re-framing the role of ‘Youth’ with a strengths-based approach


The October CSC monograph explores the role that youth can play in low- and middle-income countries in significantly contributing to world-wide food and nutrition security, using the example of Papua New Guinea (PNG). The recent volume, co-authored by Pamphilon, Caffery and Perry, is written for development practitioners interested in understanding, harnessing and developing the strengths of youth living in agricultural settings.

The monograph problematises current framings of youth in development literature as ‘risks’ or ‘problems’. Drawing on PNG data, the authors show how a strengths-based approach can inform program design and highlight that talking, listening and learning from young people themselves is vital to building effective strengths-based approaches.

Read the full monograph here.

Youth Monograph

New Book Release: Maria’s Family Plans for a New Baby


In October 2022, the Centre for Sustainable Communities (CSC) is celebrating the release of a new Maria Book, co-authored by CSC staff member Barbara Pamphilon and Kym Simoncini. The Maria books are an ongoing series produced for schools and families in rural Papua New Guinea (PNG), initially developed in an Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) research project examining the lives of women semi-subsistence farmers in PNG. The research revealed the aspirations of women to read and write as well as further supporting their own children’s learning and provided the impetus for the books.

The Maria books are designed to be dual-language, illustrative and culturally relevant so they reflected the lives of both adults and children reading them. While each book carries a specific message, such as marketing, budgeting, or agricultural practices, they also address gender inequalities in families, a key theme of research for the initial and subsequent projects that focus on building ‘Family Farm Teams’.

The two initial Maria Books were enthusiastically received creating ongoing demand for more. The latest, recently published sixth addition, highlights the critical importance of healthy eating during pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life in order to address the significant stunting issues in PNG. Congratulations to all involved!

Click here to find out more about the Maria Books.

Maria's family baby book

Opportunities to think about school education during the Covid chaos


Covid-19 has caused enormous and numerous challenges in multiple areas, from health and education to employment. The CSC’s Dr. Bernard Brown has taken a particular interest in the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis on schools and the ways in which school leaders have responded.

Bernard has led two projects that provide useful insights into educational leadership during times of crisis:

The first project, funded by the UC Affiliated Schools Research Program, uses a mixed-methods approach designed to examine, develop, and empower school leadership capacity in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The second project, funded by UC’s Early Career Academic Research Development (ECARD) Program, investigates the crisis leadership experiences of school leaders and senior administrators.

Last year Bernard and research German partner Rita Nikolai shared their international comparative research findings at the Australian Association for Research in Education Conference (AARE). The pair spoke to the interplay of Covid-19 and Teacher Education Unions, a topic which they published a paper on in October 2022 titled: “The contestation of policies for schools during the Covid-19 crisis: a comparison of teacher unions’ positions in Germany and Australia”.

Bernard also engaged on a local level by discussing teacher shortages and Covid-19 impacts on radio station 2CC in August and June of this year, as well as exploring the topic of school closures in a Canberra Times feature article. He also did an interview for an article in the Canberra Times in June, which illustrated some of the everyday challenges of running a school in 2022.

Congratulations to Bernard for his inspiring efforts in helping communities understand and work through the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Click here to find out more information about Bernard’s research work.

CSC Webinar: A Future Focused Discussion of Self-Regulated Learning


What is self-regulated learning? What is its role in the future of education?

A host of national and international panellists (including CSC member Dr Deborah Pino-Pasternack, Dr Shyam Barr, Antonia Fisher, Oliver Lovell, Dr Antonia Zachariou and chaired by Amber Piper) came together in October to discuss the future of self-regulation, held by the CSC.

The panel of experts discussed their own research in the field of Self-Regulation in learning. In the discussion, recorded below, the panellists explore in detail the key questions of the challenges for students’ self-regulation learning, as well as the challenges for researchers thinking about the topic, before turning to the future to ask, ‘How should we be preparing our future teacher so they can promote self-regulation?

Thank you to the panel for sharing their thoughts and ideas from research, as well as those who attended and added to the lively discussion. Watch the full recording of the session below!

International Emerging Rural Scholars Summit


In September, Rural Education, Curriculum and Communities team members participated in the International Emerging Rural Scholars’ Summit (IERSS) hosted by the University of Melbourne.

Importance of Theory

Associate Professor Philip Roberts presented the keynote address titled The Importance of Theory in Rural (Education) Research'. This covered a range of issues including why and how theory shapes our research work, how it helps challenge inequities in education, why theory matters in education research, how theory has shaped the rural education research field, and examples of theory in education research.

Natalie presented a lightning talk titled ‘Researching the field: Building a framework for rural education research’ which focused on her PhD work and the development of a framework that draws on understandings of education and rurality from different fields of research. The framework aims to develop capacity to challenge notions of disadvantage that dominate rural education research.

Philip and Natalie also participated in a panel titled ‘Ethics and rurality: Why does it matter?’. This panel discussed the unique ethical considerations of rural education research. These include considering how space, place, and rurality may impact on the design, funding, implementation, and reporting of research. The panel emphasised the importance of expanding our thinking about ethics beyond institutional ethical approval processes towards understanding the benefits or harms that may occur due to how we value rural people, places, communities, and lived experiences in our research.

The IERSS was initiated in 2018 and is hosted by different universities around the world every year. It is a key event in the rural education research calendar for emerging scholars.

Centre for Sustainable Communities hosts a three day curriculum workshop


In August, the Rural Education, Curriculum and Communities research group hosted a three-day workshop with six esteemed curriculum academics.


These were Emeritus Professor Bill Green (CSU), Adjunct Professor Marie Brennan (Uni SA), Professor Annette Woods (QUT), Dr Lew Zipin (Uni SA), Professor Laura Perry (Murdoch), Dr Kate O’Connor (LaTrobe) and Dr Steve Murphy (LaTrobe). The scholars worked together on collaborative research projects and publications and the HDR students and ECRs had the opportunity for mentoring and feedback about project work.

The visiting scholars participated in a public seminar titled ‘Curriculum and Equity’ which focused on key questions for curriculum scholarship, including what/whose knowledge is most valued. It also discussed the form and structure of the curriculum, degrees of prescription, relationships between curriculum, assessment, and pedagogy, as well as the purpose of modern schooling. The guest scholars shared their thoughts based on their extensive research careers as curriculum researchers.

3 Minute Thesis finals


The CSC’s very own Natalie Downes won the hearts of the people at the University of Canberra’s 3 Minute Thesis finals.

On the 25th of August five of UC’s brightest Doctoral Students battled it out in the 3-minute thesis competition (3MT) for a total prize pool of $7,000 for their research.

The international competition is an opportunity for PhD students to promote their research. Before arriving at the night each candidate competed in Faculty wide heats in July.

On the night the CSC’s Natalie Downes won the people’s choice award and finished runner up on the night by posing the provocative question "Is geographical narcissism creating rural education disadvantage?"  The tool developed in her work provides evidence-based alternatives to city biases that will transform the way we represent rural places in education. This contributes towards achieving more just and equitable outcomes for rural kids in schooling.

A big congratulations to Natalie and everyone that presented on the night!

Beginnings, Graduation, and Promotions!


CSC staff celebrate two new PhD scholars, a newly Graduated PhD, an Associate Professor, and a Professor!

The CSC is proud to welcome two new scholarship winners: Cynthia Avoada and Monty Nixon. Both researchers bring energy and enthusiasm to the CSC’s growing pool of talented PhD candidates!

While Cynthia and Monty start their PhD journey, the CSC is happy to share that Dr. Ben Wilson has finished his Doctoral Studies at the Australian National University. Dr. Wilson’s thesis “Stories for Country” details how Place -Based education can be led by 60,000 years of pedagogic practice, from Indigenous ways of being, knowing and doing. The completion of his studies will provide Dr. Wilson more opportunity to continue growing his work at UC, recognised recently by his promotion to Associate Professor!

The other success story that the CSC is extremely proud to share is that our Director, Katharine McKinnon, has deservingly become a professor.  Katharine’s work and direction is inspirational for the CSC, leading from the front!

Ben Wilson
Associate Professor Ben Wilson

In the news: CSC research in conversation with the wider public


It has been a busy few months with CSC research featured in news stories in the conversation and journal articles!

education student studying

Ben Wilson and David Spillman recently wrote for The Conversation to highlight the importance of understanding that Indigenous ways and wisdom are helpful for all people and have utility and value beyond keeping Indigenous students at school.

Also in The Conversation, Deborah Pino Pasternack co-authored an article arguing for the need to empower students with effective hand-writing skills. To help empower our youth the article provides practical tips that families can use at home to improve the vital skill.

Elsewhere Roberts et al point to the urgent need for teacher training to provide a focus on preparing teachers for rural schools to help address chronic teacher shortage in rural and regional Australia.

Also Green, Sawyer and Roberts illuminate the maintaining and renewing of social disadvantages evident in upper secondary education underlining the necessity to question the social meaning of secondary education in Australia at the nexus between curriculum and assessment, knowledge, and power.

The UC research festival empowered researchers to share their research, build networks and collaborate across faculties. On the opening evening of the three day event Professor Katharine McKinnon, the Centre’s director, gave a keynote address on Learning to live ‘the good life’: Cultivating curiosity and building sustainable communities from an ethics of possibility’. The Centre also showcased the work carried out in each of the research groups, hosting a workshop on ‘Valuing diverse ways of knowing, being and doing: Learning for change’.

Dr. Ben Wilson and Dr. David Spillman, with Margie Appel and Dr. Mike Davies, also provided an overview of their work Teaching for Country: Exploring transformative opportunities in initial teacher education through enacting Indigenous way of knowing being and doing.

The CSC took the theme ‘Exploring Diverse ways of knowing’ into a workshop with guest facilitator Zsuzsi Soboslay. Zsuzsi’s workshop explored the many ways in which we, and many cultures have come to know ourselves in world. The session was insightful and inspiring as members of different faculties shared experiences from their own work and lives.

The CSC capped off a busy few weeks with its annual writing retreat. This year the retreat was hosted at the Arboretum with stunning vistas overlooking Canberra. The retreat is fast growing in value with attendees discussing the accountability to each other helps them focus on finishing drafts, book sections and grant proposals. More importantly, the writing retreat is an important way of bringing people together, building a sense of community and connection within the Centre!

CSC scholars participate in the National Education Leaders Summit


Associate Professor Philip Roberts and Natalie Downes (research administrator/research assistant/PhD candidate) attended the National Education Leaders’ Summit hosted by the Australian Association for Research in Education and the Australian Council of Deans of Education.

Education Summit

The summit brought together senior education researchers from across Australia to explore responses to existing and emerging challenges in relation to Education Research in Australia. It focused on ways in which excellence in educational research can be advanced to better inform policy and practice. This included grant funding strategies, priorities for HDR students and ECRs, government policy, media engagement, FoR codes and ERA priorities, and developing collaborations across universities in education research.

The CSC recognises Dr Roberts and Ms Downes contribution to the national education event and welcomes their representation in the field of education research.

CSC workshop and events: Writing, listening, and sharing research


June and July were a busy and fruitful time in Centre, as we celebrated our research as part of University of Canberra’s research festival, shared conversations in workshops and spent time focusing on writing.

Canberra view

The UC research festival empowered researchers to share their research, build networks and collaborate across faculties. On the opening evening of the three day event Professor Katharine McKinnon, the Centre’s director, gave a keynote address on Learning to live ‘the good life’: Cultivating curiosity and building sustainable communities from an ethics of possibility’. The Centre also showcased the work carried out in each of the research groups, hosting a workshop on ‘Valuing diverse ways of knowing, being and doing: Learning for change’.

Dr. Ben Wilson and Dr. David Spillman, with Margie Appel and Dr. Mike Davies, also provided an overview of their work Teaching for Country: Exploring transformative opportunities in initial teacher education through enacting Indigenous way of knowing being and doing.

The CSC took the theme ‘Exploring Diverse ways of knowing’ into a workshop with guest facilitator Zsuzsi Soboslay. Zsuzsi’s workshop explored the many ways in which we, and many cultures have come to know ourselves in world. The session was insightful and inspiring as members of different faculties shared experiences from their own work and lives.

The CSC capped off a busy few weeks with its annual writing retreat. This year the retreat was hosted at the Arboretum with stunning vistas overlooking Canberra. The retreat is fast growing in value with attendees discussing the accountability to each other helps them focus on finishing drafts, book sections and grant proposals. More importantly, the writing retreat is an important way of bringing people together, building a sense of community and connection within the Centre!

New Book Release: Languages, Linguistics and Development Practices


Earlier this year, CSC member Deborah Hill and her co-editor, Felix Ameka, pubilshed a book titled ‘Languages, Linguistics and Development Practices’.

Languages book
Edited edition of book features contributions from five CSC members.

The edited book, which opens a dialogue between linguists and development practitioners about language in development work, contains the work of four other CSC members: Jo Caffery, Ann Hill, Shange Fuentes and Barbara Pamphilon. Drawing on experience gathered from work in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea, the text demonstrates the gulf between global and local understandings of key development concepts.

Find out more about the book here.

Congratulations to Deborah Hill and the whole team for the efforts producing such critical work!

A consortium of presentations: CSC members share their research with broad communities


The past few months have been a prolific period of presentations and talks from our CSC researchers at various conferences and seminars across Australia.


In late May, Ann Hill led the way presenting on improving nutrition and health outcomes through local food systems at the Canberra Region Food Collaborative. Also in May, Ben Wilson and David Spillman presented at the ACT Education Directorate Leadership conference. Ben and David provided an overview of their Country-centric education and the need for school leaders to provide support to teachers.

In July CSC staff Ann Hill, Shang Fuentes, Justin See, Ben Wilson, David Spillman, Monty Nixon and Kerry Woodward all travelled and presented at the Institute of Geographers Conference in Armidale. The presentations spoke to the transformative nature of grassroot models of learning in sustainability as well as the power of touch in regenerative farming.

Presenting is a powerful way of sharing ideas, gaining exposure to new perspectives and building allyships across universities and communities. A big congratulations to everyone that has presented over the past few months!

Learn more about each of the presenters here.

Centre for Sustainable Communities Webinar Creative Universities: Reimagining Education for global challenges and alternative futures

Webinar Recording 19 May

Centre for Sustainable Communities Webinar Creative Universities: Reimagining Education for global challenges and alternative futures

Webinar via Zoom Thursday 19 May
4pm Canberra, 7am UK

Register here

Professor, Anthropology & Global Development
Margie Appel, Shang Fuentes, Monty Nixon and Ann Hill, University of Canberra

How can we help students to better understand complex global challenges while at the same time imagining alternative responses to them? In this webinar, drawing on her book Creative Universities; Reimagining Education for Global Challenges and Alternative Futures, Anke shows that one way of achieving this is to combine critique with creativity in university classrooms. She argues, while students’ critical understanding of the complexities of global challenges and the limitations of many mainstream interventions are fundamental, it is equally important to enable students to move beyond deconstruction towards putting together again, in radically new ways. To this end, Anke proposes a critical-creative pedagogy that combines whole-person learning with creative design and arts methods, praxis and critical hope.

Respondents will offer reflections on chapters of Anke’s book based on their own professional experiences.

Faculty of Education 50th Birthday Celebrations!

25 March

50 sign

The Faculty of Education, where the Centre for Sustainable Community is based, celebrated five decades of education in March! The event was originally planned for 2021 but was postponed due to COVID 19.

The event celebrated the Faculty's collective success through some incredible changes from our first year of student enrolment in 1971 at the School of Education, Canberra College of Advanced Education, through to 2021 as the Faculty of Education at the University of Canberra.

Activities included campus tours, a showcase of each decade of education at UC including technology over the years, a display at Mura Gadi gallery – co-hosted with the Australian National Museum of Education, and the opportunity to meet and engage with our research students: past and present, our researchers and teaching academics.

Congratulations to all our past and present graduates and staff members!

More information about the event can be found in The Canberra Times.

Researchers awarded Affiliated Schools research program grants!

15 March

research grant image

Researchers in the CSC have been awarded two research grants as part of the ACT Education Directorate's partnership with the Faculty of Education.

The Affiliated Schools Program is a collaborative partnership between the University of Canberra and the ACT Government and a key initiative under the Territory’s Future of Education Strategy. The partnership is designed to enhance students’ learning outcomes. Details about the projects can be found below:

Empowering school leaders and local school communities through distributed leadership in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Bernard Brown and Dr Moosung Lee

This study arises from the context of the Covid-19 crisis and focuses on the functioning of distributed leadership in schools, practiced through school professional learning teams and their assigned leaders.  The aim of the research is to gain a better understanding of how a distributed leadership model can be effectively enacted in schools. The outcomes of the research are expected to improve and enhance the leadership capacity, strategic management in the two ACT schools, using research evidence, leading to more effective leadership, especially in the context of crisis situations.

The research  involves a three-dimensional analysis; 1) learnings from the Covid school closures from 2020 and 2021, 2) current situational analysis in each school, 3) future objectives and plans. The analysis includes school policy documents and data collection in the form of interviews/focus groups and a quantitative survey.

Equity & Curriculum form: Access and achievement in the ACT Senior Secondary Curriculum

Dr Philip Roberts, Dr Jenny Dean, Ada Goldsmith (UC team) in association with ACT teachers, ACT Education Directorate staff, ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies (BSSS) staff, and academics from Murdoch and LaTrobe University. 

This project aims to understand the relationships between students’ demographic characteristics and access and achievement in the ACT Senior Secondary Curriculum. It does so to understand the influences upon access to, and achievement in, the ACT senior secondary curriculum at an individual and institutional (school) level. International studies increasingly show that student access to, and achievement in, the curriculum is mediated by socioeconomic, institutional, and locational factors. The research will proceed along two interrelated strands. The first strand is a student level statistical data analysis in collaboration with the ACT Education Directorate and the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies. The second strand will involve focus groups, interviews, and surveys with parents, students, and teachers in at least two ACT colleges to understand the influences upon student and school decisions pertaining to subject offerings. Considered together, the project references the principles of equity, access, and inclusion of the ACT Future of Education strategy.

For more information please contact

CSC research work featured in the news!

4 March


It has been a busy start to the year with CSC research featured in several national news stories and partner publications! Here are just a few:

Dr Brernard Brown features in the Canberra Times discussing school closures and COVID-19:  When will COVID-19 school closures end? And are they even necessary?

Dr Philip Roberts provides comment in the ABC news on staff shortages in rural schools: Rural teacher shortage hits new lows, leading to temporary school closure

Dr Jo Caffery's work in Papua New Guinea features in an Australian Centre for Interntional Agricultural Research (ACIAR) media release: A union of religious teachings, youth engagement and agricultural extension in PNG

Dr Barbara Pamphilon's work on ripple effect mapping features on the Cardno International Development LinkedIn page.

To learn more about the work CSC researchers email

March into Curriculum Research!

22 February

Curriculum Challenges and  Opportunities in a Changing  World

Associate Professor Philip Roberts will be participating in several online webinars during March focused on curriculum studies. If you would like to participate please follow the links to find out more information! These online webinars relate to topics in the edited book 'Curriculum Challenges and Opportunities in a Changing World'.

1st March: Transnational Curriculum Inquiry: Introduction to the field and book.

Co-presenter: Marie Brennan, Honorary Professor, Victoria University, VIC, Australia and Adjunct Professor, University of South Australia, SA, Australia

Webinar host: Australian Curriculum Studies Association

This session introduces the field of Curriculum Inquiry from a Transnational perspective, with reference to the recent book edited by Bill Green, Philip Roberts and Marie Brennan 'Curriculum Challenges and Opportunities in a changing world: Transnational Perspectives in Curriculum Inquiry' 

8th March: Doing Curriculum research.

Co-presenter: Marie Brennan, Honorary Professor, Victoria University, VIC, Australia and Adjunct Professor, University of South Australia, SA, Australia

This session focuses on discussing the characteristics of curriculum research as a distinct form of academic inquiry.  Some issues covered are the type of topics and issues addressed and the approaches that are employed. Internationally, the field of curriculum inquiry draws on a long history of theoretical debates intersecting with other fields of inquiry. Topics include questions of knowledge, and what and whose knowledge counts, the structure and the form of the curriculum and how these intersect with national, and jurisdictional, concerns.

Webinar host: Australian Curriculum Studies Association

11th March: Building Community: School Relationships ​through Curriculum in Rural Areas: ​An international conversation​. Free International webinar.

Chair and co-organiser: Melyssa Fuqua (University of Melbourne, Australia) and co- organiser: Laurence Lasselle (The University of St Andrews, UK)

Panel: Philip Roberts (University of Canberra, Australia), Jayne Downey (Montana State University, USA), Gry Paulgaard (The Artic University of Norway, Norway), Sofia Marques da Silva (University of Porto, Portugal) and Tanya Ovenden-Hope (Plymouth Marjon University, UK).

Webinar host: The European Education Research Association Network 14.

This panel will interrogate the relations between schools, families, and communities from around the world as they seek to improve education for youth in rural areas, with a particular focus on curriculum and its enactment. Panellists consist of scholars from various international contexts – Australia, USA, Norway, Portugal, and England. They will share insights into what is being done within their schools and education systems to strengthen relationships between the school and community. With many education systems and policymakers continuing to focus on a type of ‘equity’ that values metrocentric norms and goals (Bæck, 2016; Beach et al., 2019; Green, 2013; Passy & Ovenden-Hope, 2020; Paulgaard, 2017; Roberts, 2014; Roberts & Green, 2013;) to the detriment of rural knowledges and people, panellists argue that place-consciousness is needed to improve not only educational outcomes for rural youth, but for the sustainability of the communities themselves. This online event will have dedicated time for discussion and interaction with the panel.

CSC co-hosts Community Economies Research Network Asia symposium

11 February

Community Economies Research Network image

CSC researcher Dr Ann Hill co-facilitated the latest symposium of The Community Economies Research Network (CERN) Asia on Friday 11 February titled ‘Applying Cultural Lenses in Community Work In Southwest Rural China’

At the symposium Edward Chan and Freda Ng. Edward and Freda presented on their work that is featured in a book: When Cultural Reflection Meets Agriculture: Facilitators' Notes, available here: . This book captures the experience of PCD team and their community partners in promoting sustainable agriculture through community work with a strong emphasis on cultural reflection.

This was the latest symposium in an ongoing series hosted by the CERN. The CERN is an international network of researchers, activists, artists and others who are interested in ways of enacting new visions of economy. In particular, the network is interested in the productivity of understanding diverse economies and building more ethical economic and ecological relationships. The charter of CERN dovetails several research projects and community economies research interests within the CSC.

Recordings of past CERN Asia CSC events are available via YouTube:

The next CERN Asia symposium in May 2022 date TBC will feature the work of Dr Justin See who is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the CSC.

For more on CERN visit

PNG researchers invited to present their youth empowerment extension approach at an international conference

7 February

youth empowerment extension

Key PNG project researchers, Lalen and Kiteni, along with the project leader, Jo, have been invited and funded by ACIAR to disseminate their unique youth empowerment extension approach to a global audience at the Australasian-Pacific Extension Network (APEN) 2022 international conference.

The project, Gender-equitable agricultural extension through institutions and youth engagement in Papua New Guinea, has involved the development of a wholistic approach to extension training that is extrinsically linked to participants’ lives and context. The approach considers participants’ culture, language, land, environment, social, agricultural and religious practices, norms and habits to develop a more appropriate training solution.

One of the principles underpinning the project is that the empowerment of female and male youth in an agricultural setting, as well as harnessing participants’ own knowledge, lived experience, concerns and languages contributes to better development outcomes for participants and future generations of PNG.

The project’s wholistic approach to extension training is proving effective in meeting the participants’ needs using environmentally, linguistically and culturally appropriate practices. By using our wholistic approach, more youth and their families are adopting sustainable farming practices. Our wholistic approach has also helped the project to be truly participatory by having local people run the project.

Our innovative grassroots approach to sustainable family farming research was developed by the UC and PNG research teams. The opportunity to participate and present our approach in this conference will further the scientific impact of research amongst a community of extension specialists throughout the Asia-Pacific and expand the scope of discussion in the conference to developments occurring in developing and developed countries. Our work is among exciting trends in agricultural extension research, which emphasise the importance of gender and social inclusion, pro-poor extension, social capital, and positive livelihood outcomes.

The project will promote UC’s excellent and innovative research capacity to an international and national audience, champion UC as an international expert in capacity building in development, and lead to partnership opportunities, publications and further presentations.

For more information about the project please contact

ACIAR-sponsored intern nominated for prize as part of water management and women empowerment project in Pakistan

7 February

pincombe wins prize

Ms. Gowri Pincombe, an ACIAR sponsored intern, has been nominated for the Student Water Prize offered by the Australian Water Association (ACT). A student in the Faculty of Arts and Design, Gowri’s Master of International Development research project was carried out as part of a project led by the CSC’s Dr. Sandra Heaney-Mustafa, Developing approaches to enhance farmer water management skills in Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh in Pakistan.

Water, an essential resource for human life, health and economic wellbeing is being overused by domestic, industrial and agricultural users throughout the globe. Pakistan is no exception. As Ms Pincombe notes in the recent report Women’s Empowerment Through Learning and Working Together:

Water security issues relating to agriculture range from water scarcity, low water productivity, water misuse and pollution, groundwater depletion, and effects of climate change, amongst which water wastage due to poor irrigation methods is a key challenge faced by rural farmers in particular. Therefore, effective water management practices will play a significant role in poverty alleviation and food security and will also be a key contributor towards water security in Pakistan (Pincombe, 2020).

Water security issues also intersect with gender inequality. Pakistan ranked lowest in the South Asian region and the third lowest in the world for gender equality in 2020 according to the Global Gender Gap Index. The ACIAR project therefore sought to address not only water and irrigation management through a newly developed Farmer Integrated Learning Model (FILM) but also to engage with and empower women. Gowri conducted virtual interviews and focus groups with women and men in villages to elicit why women were actively engaged in the project and how to sustain activities into the future.

The ACIAR funded internship was an excellent example of cross-faculty cooperation to enhance the student learning experience, as well as productive cross-sectoral partnerships between government bodies, NGOs and institutions including universities in Pakistan. The project also demonstrated that good international research can be conducted virtually.

The FILM is already being utilised and refined in the Adapting to Salinity in the Southern Indus Basin (ASSIB) project, an ACIAR funded initiative lead by Charles Sturt University with heavy involvement from Dr Heaney-Mustafa from the CSC. The refined model will also be utilised in the Groundwater Management in Pakistan project currently being developed, which features collaboration between several Australian and international organisations and universities including the CSC.

For more information about the project please contact

CSC researchers to present at the workshop: ‘Reparation: a way forward?’

3 February 2022

CSC researchers Ben Wilson, David Spillman, Rohan Nethsinghe, Ann Hill and Katharine McKinnon presented a session at the workshop 'Reparation: a way forward?' hosted by the University of Melbourne. The details of the session are as follows:

Title: 'Building and repairing relationships with Country: Towards an ecocentric understanding of reparations'.

Abstract: Conversations around reparations are usually generated and carried out with a view to ameliorating the socio-economic injustices that have been wrought on communities through genocide, slavery, and the ongoing colonial project. In many cases these conversations have led to desirable outcomes for individuals and communities, and should be celebrated as the necessary and poignant victories they indeed are. However, these conversations often miss the opportunity to discuss ways that reparations can be used to benefit our broader ecological communities, of which human beings are merely a part. Such discussions are particularly critical for educational institutions and organisations operating in a world going through vast and long-standing environmental destruction.

This workshop will draw upon Indigenous ways of knowing and doing to catalyze a discussion on how reparations may be viewed as programs that return individuals to a deeper and more authentic relationship with the places they inhabit. These ways of knowing are deeply embedded in sustainable ways of living, and utilize embodied experiences including song, dance, and art to move participants beyond purely rational ways of understanding the world. It is hoped that lessons from this workshop will help university academics build more sustainable and ecologically honourable approaches into their work as educators and researchers, thus reshaping the discourse around reparations in an increasingly environmentally fragile world.

More information on the work of the CSC researchers can be found by contacting

CSC researcher to present at UC’s 2021 Indigenous Research Symposium

16 December

Indigenous Research Symposium

The Indigenous Research Symposium showcases research that benefits Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The event is hosted by the UC Collaborative Indigenous Research Initiative (UC CIRI), a network at the University committed to promoting, connecting and growing UC's Indigenous research interests.

Assistant Professor Ben Wilson will be presenting on a project that aims to help University educators embed Indigenous ways of knowing into their curriculum.

His presentation, "Teaching for Country: Exploring transformative opportunities in initial teacher education through enacting Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing”, seeks to create interest and confidence in embedding teaching for Country (and caring for Country) in unit planning and student engagement in these approaches to teaching.

For more information about the project please contact

CSC researchers to focus on identifying successful school practice in new education research centre

9 December 2021

Affiliated School Conference

Congratulation to Phil & Deb P who have been awarded a grant from NSW  Department of Education with a consortium of universities (UNSW, CSU, UC) worth over $2.5 mill in phase one (2022), with a further two years of funding accumulating to $6m in total. The UC team is led by Philip Roberts, with Deborah Pino-Pasternak, Chris Morrissey and Matthew Brown.

The Ambassador Schools program is a NSW Department of Education initiative to identify a small number of high-performing schools, identify the characteristics that make them high-performing, study that practice, and share insights with the system. This is part of the NSW School Success Model.

Phase one is directed at identifying the characteristics of exemplary practices.  There are then a further two years to be funded to trial and expand those practices across the NSW system. UC team members will be leading the rural school component.

For more information see the NSW Department of Education media release for the project.

Affiliated Schools Network 2021 Annual Conference

Friday the 22nd of October

Affiliated School Conference

The CSC is proud of its ongoing partnership with The ACT school’s directorate through the Affiliated Schools Network. The Affiliate schools network provides bridges between research, future teachers, and local schools to ensure the ongoing integrity of student learning outcomes in the ACT schooling system.

The Centre currently has two funded research projects through the network with a partnership in a third. Each of these research projects were showcased at this year’s Annual Conference.

The 2021 Annual Conference was held online as series of presentations. The CSC invites you to find out more about each of the projects below!

Embedding Indigenous Ways of Knowing, Being and Doing in Higher Education

Presenters: Ben Wilson and David Spillman

Calm and Alert – Ready to Learn: A transition to preschool program created by families, Early Childhood services and schools

Presenter: Deborah Pino Pasternack

Building Cultural Integrity with ‘Country as Teacher’: Investigating teacher engagement with pedagogies of Indigenous knowledge and being

Presenters: David Spillman and Katharine McKinnon

CSC researcher appointed Chief Editor of Curriculum Perspectives journal

Curriculum Perspectives journal
The CSC would like to congratulate Associate Professor Philip Roberts on his appointment as Chief Editor of the journal Curriculum Perspectives.

The journal publishes articles that promote innovative curriculum thinking, multiple ways of knowing and understanding, and critical and creative problem solving to develop solutions that can make a difference in the lives of students and their communities. This journal brings Australian curriculum scholarship to the world and encourages an international exchange of ideas that can enhance curriculum experiences for students across the globe.The journal is the official journal of the Australian Curriculum Studies Association.

Philip is an Associate Professor of curriculum inquiry and rural studies, and has been an executive member of the Australian Curriculum Studies Association for several years. He was Associate Editor for five years before becoming Chief Editor of the journal.

Benny WilsonCountry as Teacher

Assistant Professor Benny Wilson was interviewed on ABC Radio Canberra recently following the launch of the Country as Teacher program at Lake Tuggeranong College: an Affiliated School in the UC Faculty of Education and ACT Education Directorate Affiliated Schools Partnership.

Here is the interview.

Cover of Gender and Learning in Rwanda_S Randell etal

Ebook publication announcement

CSC is delighted to advise that a publication co-edited by CSC Adjunct Professor Dr Shirley Randell AO on the creation of the Centre for Gender, Culture and Development in Rwanda in 2009, is now available.

The publication, Gender and Learning in Rwanda, features chapters by the first academics and stories by the graduates of the Centre - all exceptional people.

UTS has published this ebook under a Creative Commons license so it is available for many from the developing world to read. It is also available to you, for free, by clicking on the following link -

CSC Research Seminar

Ways of Seeing Women’s Leadership in Education: Metaphors and Images in Stories of Rwandan and Bangladeshi Women Leaders

Professor Shirley Randell
President, Independent Scholars Association of Australia,

Associate, Centre for Sustainable Communities, Faculty of Education, University of Canberra

Monday, 16 August 2021

CSC - Professor Shirley Randell_Ways of Seeing Women’s Leadership in Education - 16 Aug 2021.mp4 from UC Faculty of Education on Vimeo.

Radio interview: Future of food in the Canberra region

Sunday 25 August, 11am-noon, Goulburn community radio 2XX

Dr Ann Hill participated in a radio interview with Rod Taylor and the ACT Environment Minister Rebecca Vassarotti  about the Future of Food in the Canberra region. This included a discussion of 'Ten Journeys on A Fragile Planet' by Rod Taylor.

Ann discussed how people can and do work together at a grassroots level to affect economic, social and environmental change. She drew on her work with international communities in the Asia-Pacific region who have extensive experience working through challenges together to emerge stronger.  Of particular importance in this work is the role of schools and universities in teaching about sustainability issues with cross-cultural and collective sensibilities.

CSC Monograph 4 cover

Ann has recently published a monograph highlighting some of this work.

International Symposium:  ‘Exploring Teacher Recruitment and Retention: contextual challenges from international perspectives’

Associate Professor Philip Roberts participated in an invited symposium at the British Education Research Association (BERA) conference discussing international challenges of recruiting and retaining teachers. This work relates to the publication 'The challenges of staffing schools in a cosmopolitan nation: Rethinking the recruitment and retention of teachers in Australia through a spatial lens'

A recording of the event can be found on the BERA website.

Book seminar flyer

An ongoing research theme of the Rural Education and Communities Research Group is the staffing of rural schools in Australia. Philip is currently editing an edition on this topic 'The rural school challenge: International comparisons in the staffing of rural schools' with Natalie Downes and Dr Melyssa Fuqua (University of Melbourne). The edited edition is due to be released in 2022.

New edited book: Ruraling Education Research

The Rural Education and Communities Research Group Leader, Dr Philip Roberts, and Dr Melyssa Fuqua (University of Melbourne) published a co-edited volume of work titled 'Ruraling education research: Connections between rurality and the disciplines of education'

Ruraling Education Research book

This edited volume brings together a collection of chapters from leading scholars in rural education with the purpose of linking knowledge from the rural education field to the wider discipline of education studies. Through addressing significant issues in the rural education field, the book gives insights from rural education that have general relevance for the wider disciplines of education, and provides up-to-date scholarship in research in rural contexts.

This book aims to be a definitive and comprehensive edition of contemporary rural education scholarship that works as a guide for those new to researching in and for rural contexts, as well as actively expand the other sub-fields of education from a rural perspective. It examines the connection between rurality and the other domains of educational research, exploring what a rural perspective might bring to the broader fields of educational research, and how it might evolve them. In its unique approach, this book brings the concept of ‘rural’ to the disciplines of education; chapters regarding the ethics of research in the rural context speaks to a gap in rural education, and provide tools for engaging marginalised communities more generally in educational research.

For more information please email

CSC Webinar

Inclusivity, Livelihoods and Learning

Friday 21 May 2021, 11am-1pm - Canberra; 8am-10am - Perth; 8pm-10pm (Thursday) - Santiago

The Centre for Sustainable Communities conducts research to build sustainable livelihoods, foster lifelong learning, and create inclusive institutions that value diversity. Using co-design and place-based community engagement we focus on building partnerships through action research as a way to support the emergence of genuinely inclusive and sustainable communities. Pressing global challenges and events of the past year have prompted fresh consideration of the unsustainable nature of contemporary economic, social and ecological conditions – in this moment what can a place-based approach achieve? What does effective, respectful community engagement look like? What role can research play?

The Centre for Sustainable Communities brought together leading scholars and practitioners to explore these through three conversations focused on:

  1. Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing with Jill Milroy, UWesternAus
  2. Indigenous-led Codesign for sustainable livelihoods with Alison Guzman, MAPLE Microdevelopment Chile
  3. Diverse ways to survive well together with Katherine Gibson, University of Western Sydney

For more information please email

CSC webinar_Inclusivity Livelihoods and Learning_21 May 21.mp4 from UC Faculty of Education on Vimeo.

New edited book:Curriculum Challenges and Opportunities in a Changing World

The Rural Education and Communities Research Group Leader, Dr Philip Roberts, published an edited book with Emeritus Professor Bill Green (CSU) and Professor Marie Bennan (UniSA) titled 'Curriculum Challenges and Opportunities in a Changing World Transnational Perspectives in Curriculum Inquiry'. The edited edition is part of the Curriculum Studies Worldwide book series (CSWW).

Curriculum Challenges and  Opportunities in a Changing  World

This book brings together voices and perspectives from across the world and draws in a new generation of curriculum scholars to provide fresh insight into the contemporary field. By opening up Curriculum Studies with contributions from twelve countries - including every continent - the book outlines and exemplifies the challenges and opportunities for transnational curriculum inquiry. While curriculum remains largely shaped and enabled nationally, global policy borrowing and scholarly exchange continue to influence local practice. Contributors explore major shared debates and future implications through four key sections: Decolonising the Curriculum; Knowledge Questions and Curriculum Dilemmas; Nation, History, Curriculum; and Curriculum Challenges for the Future.

CSC Workshop

Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing and the Academy
Hosted by Uncle Paul Gordon

Friday, 30 April 2021

The CSC has the opportunity to learn from Uncle Paul Gordon about Aboriginal approaches to teaching and learning, encapsulated in the 6Ls: Lore, Love, Look, Listen, Learn, Lead, an example of cultural continuity, opening a discussion about the value of this age-old teaching and learning system to social and ecological healing, and how we might incorporate this approach in our work.

The 6Ls underpin the approach in the Building Cultural Integrity with 'Country as Teacher' research project in ACT schools which aims to embed in classroom practice deep respect for place-focused, ecocentric pedagogies that have been part of teaching and learning in Australia for centuries.

CSC Community of Practice

Methods for Participatory Research in COVID

The CSC is hosting an online community of practice to provide a space for discussion, exchange, and experimenting with new approaches to meet the challenges (and opportunities) of conducting participatory research during a pandemic.

There is opportunity for open discussion, and for folks to present ideas on key topics they would like to bring to the group during the coming months.

In the initial session (recording below) we hear from Dr Deb Hill about how she has been meeting the challenge of conducting action research in Melanesia, from a distance.

Recording of the inaugural meeting of the PAR in COVID - Community of Practice

31 March 2021

Watch on VIMEO: PAR in COVID - 31 March 2021

EduResearch Matters publication: The sociocultural experience of rural students at university

Natalie Downes and Philip Roberts, along with Samantha McMahon (USyd) and Kristy O'Neill (UNE) published a short article titled 'People call me “bogan”: how to mend the country-city divide in higher education' for the Australian Association for Research in Education blog 'EduResearch Matters'.

This piece provides insight into issues of different social and cultural capitals of rural and metropolitan peoples, especially how students navigate what it means to be rural in universities that don't appear to value their knowledges and experiences. It highlights implications for university coursework, rural careers, and the sustainability of rural communities.

Rural students at university

The publication draws from the results of the project 'The sociocultural experiences of rural students at university'. This is a project that aims to help make university transitions simpler for rural, regional and remote students and enhance their achievement once they begin their studies, by minimising the obstacles they may face.

CSC Book launch

Towards Collaborative Research in International Development - The Central Role of Social Science.

Authors John Sprigg, Barbara Chambers discuss their book with CSC's Barbara Pamphilon. Carol Kayrooz was unavailable for the discussion.