Cooperative Research: An Example from the Wet Tropics of Queensland

By Leanne Claire Cullen-Unsworth, James R A Butler, Rosemary Hill and Marilyn Wallace.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In recent years there has been wider recognition of the important role that Indigenous knowledge can play in developing and implementing natural resource management (NRM) strategies. The biophysical surroundings of many Indigenous peoples are of symbolic significance to them, hence their perception and values of natural resources may be vastly different to those of scientists or managers. We discuss a research approach that explicitly embraces the co-production of knowledge to facilitate NRM in Australia. We demonstrate that if particular methodologies are used and specific criteria met, cooperative research can represent one pathway for the integration of Indigenous and scientific knowledge. We suggest an important step for genuine knowledge and systems integration is in research direction-setting. Our approach practices multi-directional learning and mutual benefit, promoting cross transfer of skills by the cooperative generation and documentation of information. Indigenous knowledge and associated systems are strengthened and the value of Indigenous knowledge and systems is recognised alongside accepted scientific knowledge and methods. Essential to the methodology used is the creation of partnerships based on trust between co-researchers and the generation of genuine action research outcomes.

Keywords: Cooperative Research, Indigenous Knowledge, Scientific Knowledge, Research Partnerships, Research Methods, Action Research, Adaptive Co-management, Knowledge Integration

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.139-154. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 796.079KB).

Dr. Leanne Claire Cullen-Unsworth

Postdoctoral Fellow, Sustainable Ecosystems, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Leanne worked as an Environmental Scientist with CSIRO developing linked socio-cultural and biophysical indicators for the Queensland Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Her PhD research looked at the direct economic value of natural marine resources to local dependents; resource use patterns; alternative livelihoods; and developed a series of economic performance criteria to monitor the local economic impacts of management/non-management within a small island community in a marine national park in Indonesia. Leanne has an MSc in Marine Environmental Protection (2000-2001) from the University of Wales, Bangor and BSc (honours) in Marine Biology from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (1997-2000).

Dr. James R A Butler

CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Dr. Rosemary Hill

CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Marilyn Wallace

Bana Yarralji Bubu Incorporated, Helenvale, Queensland, Australia


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