Getting Started

Essentials: How To Get Started With Development

You can also view this page How To Get Started [need link]  in pdf and also download it.

This resource pack is primarily for staff who have been given the task of including an Essential in a chosen subject. It is an over-view that covers some of the common questions and issues for staff engaged in this task. You might also like to look at the Quick Guide for each of the Essentials, located on the first page for an Essential. You may also get value in looking at the Examples, Case Studies,  Resources and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the Essential you are going to be developing.

What are the La Trobe Essentials? How are they defined?

There are three of these: Global Citizenship (GC), Sustainability Thinking (ST), and Innovation & Entrepreneurship (I&E). These have been defined for staff by the University – see Definitions of the Essentials . In addition to the formal University (staff) definition, you will also see there are explanations of each Essential for students – these words may help you to communicate what the Essential is about to your students, and think through what it might mean for the subject you are developing the Essential in.

Will every subject at La Trobe have an Essential in it?

No – it is planned that subjects with each of the Essentials will be distributed across the subject offerings at La Trobe, in undergraduate courses (there is currently no requirement that Essentials be included in postgraduate courses). This is so that each student will have the opportunity to take each Essential at least once, by choosing subjects that have Essentials embedded – and they will be counselled to ensure that, by the time they complete their undergraduate course, they will have completed at least one of each of the ‘Essentials’ subjects.

Which subjects will have Essentials? Why has this subject been chosen?

The subject has been chosen for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it is a subject that will allow a large number of students taking the course(s) in your area to complete an Essential. It may be that the subject is a compulsory one for the course(s). Or it might be a limited choice subject with large enrolments. Or a large enrolment elective subject.

Secondly, the subject may already have some elements of the Essential in it, or clear opportunities for development of the Essential. For example, the BUS1BUF Foundations of Business [need hyperlink to resource library] subject is a core subject for a range of business-related courses. The course and subject coordinators for these courses were keen that their students gain practical experience of working with other people from diverse backgrounds, and to gain global perspectives on the development of business, so the subject was clearly interested in, and already starting to incorporate, elements of the GC Essential.

Can a subject have more than one Essential?

No – normally there will be one Essential only per subject in the vast majority of cases. This is the University preference. Practically it will be difficult to fit more than one Essential in a subject, as the Essential needs to be covered in at least 25% of the assessment, and be a significant component of student learning activities, as well as in at least one of the Intended Learning Outcomes. If you think your subject might be an exception to this, talk to your course coordinator and your College.

What is the Essential aiming to do in the subject?

Each Essential aims to provide a rich, wider context for what is being taught in the subject, through the lens of either ST, GC or I&E. Broadly students are to be engaged in content and questions that address global and future issues, and to think and respond beyond conventional boundaries, to foster adaptable thinking and the capacity to apply knowledge and skills in a future as yet unknown to us. Not all of the subject content needs to cover the Essential, but it needs to be sufficiently covered so that it can be included in at least 25% if the assessment. It is intended that Essential will not ‘stand alone’ in the subject, but be integrated with the other learning material.

What will the Essential look like in your subject?

There is no uniform way that an Essential is expressed in a subject. But each Essential must address and enact the core features of the Essential, as outlined in the Definition for Staff. Sometimes the Essential is built into a particular section of the subject. For example, CRA1ECA Exploring Creative Arts [need hyperlink to resources page] has a specific, major creative project and written reflection addressing the theme: Sustainability on Site, in which students select a site on campus, for which they propose and develop detailed plans for a sustainability art project. In other cases, the Essential is integrated across the subject, and forms an ongoing thread of content and inquiry. In HUS1FFT Food for Thought [hyperlink: Resources page] sustainability and food is an ongoing theme, and culminates in a mini-exam that assesses students’ understanding of sustainability and food, as outlined in the Sustainability Thinking Essential definition.

Some subjects have a set of exercises integrated with other aspects of the subject, that deliver on the Essential. In AST1IJI Introduction to Asia: Japan and Indonesia [need hyperlink: Resources page] students first encounter Global Citizenship in the preparation of a short paper in which, in addition to testing writing and critical thinking skills, they are tested on their ability to consult and engage with the lecture and reading materials that includes the global dimensions of GC. Then in a small group exercise to develop a presentation aimed at nurturing teamwork and developing skills to negotiate differences, they are assigned to groups of three or four which represent cultural and ethnic diversity.

How do you get started on developing the Essential?

It is likely that the subject in which the Essential is to be developed already contains some element of the Essential, or some identified potential for its full development.

For example, The subject AST1IJI Introduction to Asia: Japan and Indonesia [hyperlink needed to: Resources page] referred to above, was a case in point. Significant parts of the subject were already examining aspects of cultural difference, and the changing roles of two countries in a contemporary global context. So there was an easy opportunity to incorporate recognition of the global context of their studies, and to engage with a wider range of communities and institutions changing in ways that are responding to the demands of global challenges. In addition, students were already participating in small group projects, so by deliberately mixing these groups so there was a diversity of student backgrounds in each group, and getting students to reflect on how they approached these differences in small group work, students were given opportunities to develop their personal and technical skills to interact effectively with a diverse range of people.

In exploring how the existing Essential-related elements of the subject can be built on, it is important to look again at what each of the different elements of the Essential are required, and to assess both the potential areas for further development, and the gaps that will need further work. It can take some time to work through the full extent of what is required to get full alignment with all of the elements of the Essential. It can be useful to make progress on the aspects of the Essential that can be worked on, and to begin to sketch out possible approaches to those elements that are still not covered.

What are some useful tips in early stages of Essential development?

If there are no obvious starting points for how to develop the Essential in the subject, think about the broader context within which the subject sits: its broader social and global context for GC, its effects on, and feedback influences from the social-economic-environmental system, and future trajectory for ST, and the potential for innovative transformation for I&E. This may require some thinking ‘outside the square’ of existing disciplinary frames of reference. To assist with this, look up examples of where the discipline focus has already been incorporated in other similar subjects, either at La Trobe or elsewhere – see Examples and Links under each of the Essentials. Or you may get a lead on what might be the most useful context or approach, by looking at how others in your discipline, either in Australia or overseas, are more generally pursuing the key elements of the Essential you are working with.

Be prepared for the possibility that there may be few others anywhere developing anything like your Essential in undergraduate programs. But there are likely to be people already starting to tackle the questions and issues that the Essential is addressing more broadly in the discipline, and it will be very helpful if you can find these people and the resources and perspectives they are producing. In the Resources and Links section for each Essential you may find at least the first bread-crumbs that will help give you direction for what you are looking for. Use links to professional associations discipline networks in your area (internationally as well as in Australia) to see where they are up to in development.

For example, the whole area of sustainability in health is just starting to emerge, here and overseas. For many areas of health and allied health there are as yet few teaching resources directly related to Sustainability Thinking. But the Australian Climate And Health Alliance (CAHA) has a range of ideas, perspectives, resources and other links that might be useful. In 2014, CAHA teamed up with the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) and Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network to host a Think Tank on Greening the Healthcare Sector. The full report is available on the CAHA blog site. The UK National Health Service (NHS) now has a Sustainability page as part of the NHS Institute for Innovation & Improvement.

In Business there has recently been somewhat of a transformation in the ways that responsible management and leadership are being incorporated. This is expressed, amongst other ways, through the international Principles of Responsible Management Education . There are six of these, and the first is to: “develop the capabilities of students to be future generators of sustainable value for business and society at large and to work for an inclusive and sustainable global economy”. The frameworks of PRME cover extensive parts of the Sustainability Thinking and Global Citizenship Essentials, and link also to Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Through the PRME network there are already extensive resources that relate directly to these Essentials, and these are expanding rapidly.

If you are part of a larger scale project partnership between your College and La Trobe Learning and Teaching for the development of an Essential in a subject, you can expect to get some assistance in thinking through how you might best incorporate the Essential. In any case, regardless of whether or not the development of an Essential in your subject has been prioritized or not, it is valuable for you to make a start yourself, and to map out where you have already been able to meet some of the elements of the Essential, and where there are gaps.

The Essentials Review and Planning Tools [need Hyperlink to resources page] can help you to map your progress to date, and what work still needs to be done – in particular in ways that cover all the requirements for Essential development – in Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs), Student Learning Activities (SLAs) and Subject Assessment Tasks (SATs) – see below.

What Formal Requirements Need to Be Met?

The Essential not only has to be incorporated into the subject in ways that meet each of the elements of the Essential. It also has to be clearly evident, in ways that align with these elements of the definition in the Student Learning Guide (and any additional explanatory material) in each of the:

  • Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
  • Student Learning Activities (SLAs); and
  • Subject Assessment Tasks (SATs)

There will also need to be a statement in the Subject Learning Guide as to what the Essential is about, and some at least brief mention of what the Essential is about in the introductory Subject Description.

The requirement for SATS is as follows: An Essential within a subject should normally be assessed to include at least one major assessment task, and with Essentials-related assessment accounting for no less than 25% of the final grade.

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