Integrated Human Studies: Engaging Students with an Interdisciplinary Focus on Human Wellbeing within a Sustainable Environment

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The university sector is seemingly highly successful. It continues to grow rapidly in numbers of institutions, staff and students and in public and private sector acceptance and support. It quickly adapts with ever increasing specialisation of courses to meet the demands of technological progress, economic growth and vocational training. But are universities still providing critical and innovative programmes needed to address the crucial and multifactorial problems facing humankind today; the population explosion, inequitable distribution of resources and global warming to name but some? This inaugural World Universities Forum implicitly raises such questions by setting the challenge “….there is an urgent need for academe to connect more directly and boldly with the large questions of our time….”. Integrated Human Studies (IHS) is our answer to this challenge. IHS brings together the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities to focus on the nature and future of humankind. Its ultimate concern is to improve human wellbeing within a sustainable environment. IHS lies well within the greater university traditions; it offers an academic challenge and social relevance that directly appeals to student imagination and intellectual energy. In this paper we examine developments in IHS and cognate studies and present guidelines on how such studies could be introduced as an orientation to specialised and vocationally based courses. IHS aims to develop in students a curiosity about human origins and histories and above all germinate a concern for, and intent to participate in improving the future for humankind.

Keywords: Integrated Human Studies, Curriculum Development
Stream: University Teaching and Learning
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Prof. Neville Bruce

Associate Professor, Integrated Human Studies
School of Anatomy and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia

Crawley, Western Australia, Australia

Neville Bruce completed his undergraduate study in Veterinary Science at The University of Sydney, followed by a PhD at The University of Melbourne and a post-doctoral fellowship at the Nuffield Institute for Medical Research at Oxford University. He is now at the School of Anatomy & Human Biology at The University of Western Australia. His major research and teaching interests have centred on human reproduction and human biology; he as published over 80 papers in international journals and four edited books based on conference proceedings in these disciplines. Over the past decade he broadened his research and teaching interests to encompass human wellbeing from a psychological and biological perspective as a basis for developing a philosophy and practice for Integrated Human Studies ( He had an active role in establishing the Australasian Society for Human Biology and at an extra curricular level has been active in Scientists Against Nuclear Arms, the Peace Education Society and the WA Alternative Fuels Association. He is committed to furthering the discipline of Integrated Human Studies locally and internationally.

Brilliana von Katterfeld

Associate Lecturer, Integrated Human Studies
School of Anatomy and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia

Crawley, Western Australia, Australia

Brilliana von Katterfeld graduated from The University of Western Australia in 2005 with a specific interest in cross-disciplinary studies. She completed a BA with a double major in German Studies and Anthropology and a BSc with first class honours and a double major in Psychology and Anatomy and Human Biology. Brilliana is currently involved with the development of Integrated Human Studies at UWA

Ref: U08P0237