Rangeland Management Postgraduate Coursework Program – A National Initiative in ‘Learning for a Future in the Bush’

Rangelands Australia and Teaching and Educational Development Institute

Project Team: Professor John Taylor and Ms Patricia Andrews.

Click here to view video Video of Rangeland Management Postgraduate Coursework Program [4.2MB MP4]

The Rangeland Management Postgraduate Coursework Program is recognised nationally and internationally as an innovative and effective model for rangeland education. It is distinctive in that it focuses on building multi-disciplinary capacity for economic, environmental and social outcomes in remote areas of Australia, the region of greatest educational disadvantage.   A set of twelve, postgraduate-level courses, accessible in several modes, comprise the core of the program, which is unique in Australia.  
 
An impressive feature of the program is the stakeholder involvement in the curriculum and course development process. The needs assessment method based on focus group discussions has proved to be an effective method to set the foundation for the program. The continued industry involvement and program assessment allows the program to evolve and adapt.  Of particular note is the inclusion of distance and intensive workshop‐style courses at the core of the model. This approach has proven successful for a diverse audience of students, including Indigenous and mature age students in remote areas, who were not able to access educational opportunities in the past.
 
The development of the program has been recognised as a strategic, systematic educational initiative that addresses key priorities of the Australian Government’s agenda to transform higher education by improving access, participation and retention of underrepresented groups. As the winner of the 2009 Australian Rural Education Award for excellence in rural education, the program’s reputation has been further enhanced.
 
The Rangeland Management program has clearly engaged effectively with students, showing growth at a time when interest in agricultural education has been waning. Course evaluations reveal that the courses are seen to be of high quality, challenging, practical and relevant to current and emerging issues.
 
The initiative has a growing international reputation. The United States Range Science Education Council has acknowledged the program as the inspiration, catalyst and model for a recently announced, US Department of Agriculture Higher Education Challenge grant to examine the core competences for rangeland professionals and to revise the way in which range management programs are delivered at 30 universities in the United States.
 
 

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