Issue 21, January - April 2002

Leader appointed for CRC learning theme

AFTER a long search, the new leader for the TS–CRC’s research theme, Human Capability Development, has been found. Professor Ian Falk will begin in his role as theme leader on May 6. Ian is currently the Director of the National Centre for Research and Learning in Regional Australia at the University of Tasmania. As well as leading the new theme, he has also been appointed as the new Chair of Rural and Remote Education at the Northern Territory University.

Ian will be developing a research program that both integrates the work of the new Chair and the CRC’s theme. One of the most significant challenges his new position faces is developing programs that will help different communities across the north to take part in education processes, as well as taking up research outcomes developed by the CRC. Ian is looking forward to the new position enormously.

“It’s the kind of challenge I’ve always wanted,” he said. “To develop a coherent and integrated research program that has the potential to impact on a wide range of disciplines and practice as well as policy in northern Australia.”

The CRC’s theme on Human Capability Development will encompass many different learning and communication activities, including meeting challenges faced by those in remote and rural areas, building capacity in indigenous, remote and rural communities, and developing practical ways to implement informal learning processes.

Ian believes one of the keys to succeeding in all of these areas is to respect the different values held by all groups across northern Australia.

“There are different capabilities for individuals, communities and the larger society,” he said. “My aim is to work with all these different values and capabilities to try and achieve some outcomes that everyone values, needs and wants.”

“In essence, capacity building is as much about building people’s and communities’ identities and collective vision and energy as it is about building the capacity of the territory or region as a whole,” he explained.

In the area of vocational and adult education, Ian thinks these terms might be too narrow for the kind of research agenda he hopes to develop with the CRC and NTU.

“Eighty-five per cent of all adult learning is informal—and this is the way adults learn most and best,” he explained. “We will be investigating practical ways in which these informal learning processes provide better participation in the civic processes of northern Australia.”

Ian has spent the past nine years in Tasmania and says there are many points of similarities between the Apple Isle and the remote north. In fact, he thinks a sister-city relationship could even be developed between Launceston and Darwin. “Each is an island in its own way—Launceston and Darwin are the same size, have the same type of profile in terms of ‘state’ infrastructure, business and education. In each case, the universities are the only ones serving the state or territory.”

“The differences are clear, but only serve to show how similar the two places are,” he said. “This would provide an excellent basis for a sister-city type relationship, where universities, local governments, business areas and so on could fruitfully learn from each other.”


Prof. Ian Falk
Research Chair Rural and Remote Education
Charles Darwin University
Tel: 08 8946 6051

Fax: 08 8946 6151

Faculty of SITE, Bld 23