2021 seminar and workshop series

6 Apr 2022

The 2021 Global Change Scholars program began with a series of seminars on grand challenges. This series aimed to highlight some of the complex issues we all face and how researchers are responding.

The series included discussions on ocean health, ecological economics and participatory community development approaches. Among the highlights were sessions on incorporating Indigenous knowledge into the design of UQ’s campuses; dealing with health and inequality and systems thinking.

Learning from Indigenous ways of knowing and doing

Prof Tracy Bunda; Dr Kelly Greenop, Ms Carroll Go-Sam

The seminar series began with a focus on indigenous design and how cultural values of Country, interchange, shared understanding, celebrations and narratives are being incorporated into the university. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Design Principles Project aims to address some of UQ’s Reconciliation Action Plan goals to incorporate Indigenous values and spaces in the physical and built environment. The project team used a series of ‘walk and talk’ sessions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, staff, students, and community members to develop a Handbook and design principles for incorporating Indigenous perspectives in campus development.

Health, wellbeing and inequality

Prof Lisa McDaid

This thought-provoking presentation inspired a dynamic question and answer session afterwards. We were challenged to confront our preconceptions of health as the absence of disease and instead to consider it as a system and a fundamental human right. Health is complex and is often determined by a range of factors including social, cultural, economic, and environmental conditions. As a result, co-design and collaboration with organisations and government are vital to enact policy change. This presentation led to a stimulating discussion about the stigma of poverty, the impact of political ideology and the challenges of working with stakeholders.

Other seminars in the series included:

  • The changing PhD — Prof Al McEwan;
  • Viral pandemics — Dr Kirsty Short;
  • Coral reefs, ocean health and climate change — Prof Ove Hoeg-Guldbeerg; 
  • Participatory approach and community development — A/Prof Elske van de Fliert and Dr Severine van Bommel;
  • Ecological economics — Prof Robert Costanza;
  • Systems thinking — A/Prof Kate O’Brien.


The 2021 workshop series introduced methods for understanding and communicating about complex issues and wicked problems. Designed to provide tools for thinking, the sessions were hands-on and practical.

Co-designing impactful research

Dr Crighton Nichols 

How best to involve research end-users in the design of research and why? This workshop outlined the principles of designing research collaboratively with those who will be most impacted by the research. Respect for different ways of knowing, doing, and being is the key to exploring tensions that arise when co-designing. Done well, research co-design results in mutual learning.

Speculative futures

Dr Ben Matthews

This workshop introduced several tools for thinking creatively about complex situations and how to address them. Techniques such as frame analysis, extreme characters and value fiction are grounded in design thinking and can be used to explore the consequences of decisions.

Designing research stories

Dr Skye Doherty, Prof Kim Wilkins, A/Prof Stephen Viller

Each research story needs to be designed for its audience. This workshop drew on techniques from creative writing and design to explore how to develop narratives for particular people, in particular, places, using the most effective media. Sometimes, that might a fortune cookie.

Crafting your research story using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®

A/Prof Elske van de FliertLego workshop image

In this workshop scholars used Lego bricks to think about a particular research output, such as a paper or confirmation report, and how to communicate it. Lego Serious Play is a methodology for thinking through complex situations and building solutions and responses. The process is reflective and collaborative.