Humanities & Social Science

The Humanities & Social Sciences learning area develops students’ understandings of how and why individuals and groups live together; interact with and within their environment; manage resources; and create institutions and systems. Students further understand that, over time, these relationships and interactions may change to varying degrees.

Students develop these understandings through processes of social inquiry, environmental appraisal, ethical analysis and the skills to constructively critique various perspectives from past and present contexts.

Students are encouraged to apply their understandings and skills in their own lives, in developing environmental consciousness, social competence and civic responsibility. In doing so, they are engaged in actively exploring, making sense of and contributing to improving the world around them.

Participating in a rapidly-changing world

Acknowledging that students are operating in a rapidly-changing world, the Humanities & Social Sciences learning area equips them with the knowledge, skills and values needed to understand and participate effectively in these changing contexts.

Changes confront students in a number of contexts – local, national, regional and global and include increasing interdependence as a result of globalisation; the use and impact of new technologies; the dynamic nature of social, economic and political structures and relationships; the increasing demand for declining natural resources and the emergence of sustainable management practices; and the acquisition and application of new knowledge.

The Humanities & Social Sciences learning area is important for students in that it fosters in them the capacity to develop new and integrated approaches to seeking solutions to a range of social and environmental issues of importance to humanity.

Acquiring knowledge, skills and values

Knowledge is developed that is relevant to students inWestern Australia, within local, national, regional and global contexts. This will enable them to more effectively understand the changing world around them in terms of places, cultures, use of resources and natural and social systems in the past, present and future.

Students learn the skills of social inquiry to assist them in becoming more autonomous, purposeful, tolerant and involved members of the Australian and global society. These skills include investigating, reasoning, participating and communicating.

They explore the values of democratic process, social justice and ecological sustainability, enabling them to exercise judgment on moral and ethical issues, and to develop a commitment to the core values shared by most Australians. Empowered with this knowledge and these skills and values, students will become better thinkers and better decision makers. They are then able to take action in a socially-responsible manner to contribute to the achievement of more desirable futures for all.

Connecting different perspectives

This emerging competence and responsibility in students is informed by the knowledge, processes and perspectives of complementary social science disciplines and integrated approaches: for example, history uses the perspective of time to explore the past and aspects of continuity and change; political science and law use the perspectives of political and legal institutions to explore the structure and processes of government; geography uses the concepts of place and space to explore environmental patterns and processes; anthropology analyses the origins, perspectives and viewpoints of different cultural groups; economics provides perspectives on the efficient use and management of resources; and sociology explores the behaviour and roles of individuals, groups and institutions, and the resultant diversity of relationships. The perspectives of these and other disciplines can be reflected in a variety of integrated approaches, including Australian studies, Asian studies, environmental studies, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies, and studies in citizenship education, social education and vocational education.

Aiming for civic responsibility and social competence

The Humanities & Social Sciences Environment learning area, with its focus on civic responsibility and social competence, has a unique place in the Curriculum Framework. Its basic aim is to give individual students the ability to make reasoned and informed decisions as citizens of a culturally-diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world. It does this by developing students’ sense of their social world and their place in it; their respect for their own cultural heritage and that of others; their respect for the rights of other people; their commitment to uphold, critically and compassionately, the values of social justice, democratic process and ecological sustainability; and their capacity to contribute to the quality of life on the earth, now and in the future.