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Place-based knowledge is an emerging new paradigm for engaging the whole-of-community in meeting the challenge of biospheric change. In opposition to discipline-based research programs, which seek to offer top-down general solutions, it promotes place-based ‘perceptual’ knowledge. This knowledge is eclectic, flexibly deployed and relational.
Through the study of the immediate environment, place-based knowledge promotes a spiralling outward array of connections that connect the local to the global. Its mandate is to create the space and time where perceptual immersion in the local environment can engender intellectual appreciation of, and emotional identification with, the environment as a whole. It recognises that quantitative, empirically-based information needs to be embedded in qualitative experience if it is to lead to action. Sustaining our environment is inseparable from sustaining ourselves. Research should be linked to recreation; and both should be sources of respite and self-healing.
A primary goal of place-based education is community-building. In contrast to old land management policies, place-based planning recognises that places are relationships not resources. They derive their value from the stories they harbour. They are or should be opportunities for communities with attachments to them to meet, to cooperate and to create new scenarios for their own futures. Attachment-building occurs virtually as well as through experiential exposure to the place. Indeed, it is a key feature of place-based knowledge that it locates the local within a network of places, communities and other agencies whose common interest is the procurement of sustainable environmental and societal evolution.
The name of the project refers respectively to lava flows, water flows and language flows and to the problem they pose of description (or catchment). The proposed region of the project is the town of Camperdown, the surrounding volcanic plains and the (roughly) north-south Mount Emu Creek/Hopkins River.
The object of thinking geomorphology (or landscape values), water passages and attachments and extinct language flows together is to apply the principles of place-based learning to the practical challenge of defining 'sense of place'. It is understood that 'place' is a highly problematic descriptor of belonging, particularly in a colonial and postcolonial context.
The working hypothesis is that 'place' is better thought of in terms of rates of exchange: the interest attributed to certain aggregations of natural and human capital is a product of creative investment and ongoing cultural production. The processes that broadly underwrite the 'knowledge economy' and more importantly incubate senses of belongings involve a poetic capacity to think - to narrate - different phenomena within a shared domain of immanence or becoming. In contrast with teleological understandings of place, community and wellbeing, that understand these instrumentally - therefore amenable to top-down planning-place-based learning models argue for the heuristic value of places. That is, places as intensifications of flows, pose the problem of catchment, tracing its process and passage rather than standing as repositories or destinations.
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