The Essentials are three vital areas of learning which all La Trobe undergraduate students will experience to foster the skills and knowledge needed to become future ready in the workplace and the wider world. The Essentials are designed to develop students' capacity to address our most pressing global challenges. This includes being able to:
- engage with the major economic, technological, political and social issues, and understand how these are often inter-woven;
- demonstrate flexibility to adapt to rapidly changing environments in the workplace and beyond;
- apply their knowledge and skills effectively and responsibly to help find solutions to these major challenges.
The key areas of learning covered by the Essentials within all undergraduate La Trobe course are: Global Citizenship; Innovation and Entrepreneurship; and Sustainability Thinking. Together, these three Essentials contribute distinctive learning outcomes for students within our Future Ready courses.
How are the Essentials defined?
The Essentials at La Trobe have been defined for general use with the assistance of academic experts in each field – Professor Nick Bisley for Global Citizenship, Professor Amalia Di Iorio for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Professor Noel Meyers for Sustainability Thinking. Dr Chris Scanlon has written definitions for student use.
Why are they important?
The La Trobe Essentials are not just about content. The Essentials are often inextricably interrelated. In practice, for example, Sustainability Thinking and its associated challenges will often require students to consider a 'sustainability' issue's global dimensions, and/or its relationship to the possible benefits and costs of innovation. Such important interrelationships are a key feature to which students will be exposed. One of the goals of studying the Essentials is to equip students 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.
How will students experience them?
Every La Trobe undergraduate student commencing in first year from 2014 will be required to complete subjects in their degrees which have significant content and assessment on each of the Essentials. Many students will focus on one Essential each year, but in some courses, subjects may contain significant content on more than one Essential. There is no preferred order of completion.
How are colleges preparing for this learning?
Colleges have assessed current courses for significant content on each of the Essentials and a gap analysis is currently underway. Colleges are also identifying subjects which can be offered as electives to students in other colleges and subjects are being designed or re-designed as needed so that all La Trobe undergraduate students have the opportunity to complete all three Essentials. All majors must either include the Essentials, or space must be available within the degree for students to take relevant electives from other areas. Subject learning guides and the University Handbook will need to be updated to indicate which subjects meeting the Essentials requirements, and in what ways.
How will students know what they need to do?
All student advisers will need to ensure that each student commencing in first year from 2014 includes, in their course planning, subjects covering the Essentials. Information will be provided to support this advice, including the availability of electives from other faculties.
How will the Essentials be assessed?
There must be one major assessment task drawing on the content on one or more of the Essentials in each of the designated subjects. Students who pass the subject will automatically meet the requirement for the Essential(s) also.
How will the Essentials be recorded?
The new Course Information Management System (CIMS) will either record and/or produce all the necessary publications or forms pending the inclusion of the relevant fields into the system.
What will employers know about the Essentials?
A statement about La Trobe University's Essentials will be included on the Australian Higher Education Graduate Statement (AHEGS) along with a list of the Essentials subjects completed and to which of the Essentials those addressed in particular subjects contained.
The AHEGS and academic transcript can be made available to employers by graduates when applying for positions. La Trobe University information provided to employers by Student Enrichment and by faculties should include statements about the Essentials and their value to graduates and the broader community.
How will the University 'live' the Essentials?
As well as being embedded in the curriculum, the value of the Essentials to the La Trobe and broader communities will be demonstrated in a number of ways from 2014. The University has allocated a small amount of funding to support the three Academic Leaders of the Essentials to raise the profile of the Essentials on campus and online through a range of initiatives such as seminars, debates, special events, contributions to professional development, internal communications, media.