Essentials: Getting started
In addition to these Getting Started resources, there are separate resource packs for each Essential in the LTLT Resources Library, where you can see Essential-specific examples, resources and links. You may also find it useful to look at the Essentials - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) resource.
What the Essentials are about
"The Essentials are aimed at producing students who are "… able to address the most pressing global challenges intelligently and decisively."
— From La Trobe Essentials Information website.
"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."
— From Definitions of Essentials on La Trobe's Essentials Webpages.
How the Essentials are defined
It is important when embarking on the development of an Essential in your subject, for you to be clear about how the Essential is defined, and what each of the elements of this definition are.
The formal University definitions of each of the Essentials, Global Citizenship (GC), Sustainability Thinking (ST) and Innovation & Entrepreneurship (I&E), along with explanatory videos, can be found at — What are the Essentials?
There is also a useful explanation for students available.
Seven tips for getting started
In addition to the following starter tips, there is an outline of four ways to develop an Essential in your subject.
- Look for existing elements: It is likely that the subject chosen already contains some parts of the Essential, or some identified potential for its full development.
- Example: AST1IJI Introduction to Asia: Japan and Indonesia already had sections examining aspects of cultural difference, and the changing roles of two countries in a contemporary global context. This was expanded to incorporate recognition of the global context, and engage with a wider range of communities and institutions responding to the demands of global challenges, as well as giving students experience in dealing with cultural diversity.
- Build on what is already there: Look again at each element required by the Essential and identify in the subject potential areas for development, and gaps needing further work — it may take time to work up full alignment with all elements of the Essential.
- Start with the easier parts: Make progress on elements that can be worked on, and sketch out possible approaches for elements that are still not covered. Ask others in your team to provide ideas and perspectives
- If there are no obvious starting points think about the broader social and global context within which the subject sits: its effects on, and feedback influences from the social-economic-environmental system within which it is located, implications for diversity (GC), future trajectory (ST), and the potential for innovative transformation (I&E).
- Think 'outside the square' of existing disciplinary frames of reference. Look up examples of where the focus of the Essential has already been incorporated in other similar subjects, either at La Trobe or elsewhere, either in Australia or overseas.
- Look for people who are starting to tackle the questions and issues that the Essential is addressing more broadly in the discipline, either via an internet search or through published research. It is possible that, in some disciplines, the issues addressed by the Essential may be under-developed.
- Look at the resources and links for each Essential in the LTLT Resource Library — you may find the first bread-crumbs that will lead you toward ideas to help get started. 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.
When discipline-based resources are in short supply
In several instances, the focus of an Essential may just be at the beginning of being addressed in some discipline areas. Where this is the case, you and your support network, including LTLT, may need to undertake some background work to find out where, and by whom, the focus of an Essential is being developed.
For example, in Health the issue of sustainability is just starting to emerge, here and overseas — as yet there are few teaching resources directly related to Health and Sustainability Thinking. But there are a number of valuable resources, once these are located. For example, in 2014, the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA.org.au) teamed up with the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA.asn.au) and Global Green and Healthy Hospitalsnetwork (www.greenhospitals.net/)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 (PRME). There are six principles, 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.
In whatever discipline you are working, it is valuable when developing an Essential, to find out through an internet search what is happening at other Universities, in Australia and overseas, and what relevant government, NGO and professional organizations are working on issues related to your Essential.
If you are part of a larger scale Curriculum Development Intensive (CDI) project partnership between your College and La Trobe Learning and Teaching that involves development of an Essential in a subject, you can expect to get some concentrated assistance in thinking through how to best incorporate the chosen Essential. Regardless of whether or not the development of an Essential in your subject is currently prioritized, 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 can help you to map your progress to date, and what work still needs to be done — these tools help to reveal the extent to which the requirements for Essential development are covered — in Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs), Student Learning Activities (SLAs) and Subject Assessment Tasks (SATs) — see below.
The formal requirements that need to be met
The Essential has to be incorporated into the subject in ways that meet each of the elements of the Essential. The Essential also has to be clearly evident 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 covers, and at least a brief mention of what the Essential is about in the introductory Subject Description.
The requirement for the Subject Assessment Tasks (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." — from the La Trobe Essentials Procedure, November 2014.
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