Associate Professor Sherry is a leading Australian expert on strata and community title, and the author of Strata Title Property Rights: Private governance of multi-owned properties (Routledge, 2016).
Cathy provides advice to government and the private sector on the complexities of collectively-owned property. Her research focuses on the social implications of private communities, as well as optimal planning for children. Cathy has a special interest in urban farming and the challenges of providing growing space in high density cities.
Cathy is an academic member of the Australian College of Community Association Lawyers (ACCAL) and her postgraduate course, Strata and Community Title Law, LAWS8115, is the approved accreditation for membership of ACCAL. She was a founding General Editor of the international property journal, Property Law Review.
Cathy is the recipient of a Vice Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence and a NSW Department of Training and Education and Australian College of Educators' Award. She was also a winner in the individual category of the Legal Innovation Index 2015, for her online Moodle site for Land Law. In 2017, she was awarded ‘Academic of the Year’, at the 2017 Women in Law Awards. The awards, organised by Lawyers Weekly, recognise the achievements of women who have challenged, influenced or changed the practice law in Australia.
WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION – insights, challenges and paths to success…
With the International Women’s Day in mind, Cathy and Dr Benson Lim, fellow Scientia Education Academy Fellow and Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Built Environment, sat down to talk about the issues that women face in the construction industry. Dr Lim has focussed his research on women working in the construction industry, both as tradeswomen and as professionals. The outcomes inform some of our Construction Management teaching programs.
Click here to read the full interview.
Learning in the Dirt: University Food Gardens as Teaching Tools
Introduction: One of the most significant effects of urbanisation is the loss of connection between populations and food production. By definition, to be a city dweller means having insufficient space to be food self-sufficient. 50% of the world’s population now lives in cities, while in Australia that figure is over 90%. Fewer than 350,000 Australians are currently employed in agriculture. The result is that millions of Australians have no experience or knowledge of growing food. Without an understanding of food production, it is difficult to recognise, let alone address the social, health and environmental problems created by modern food systems (Springmann et al, 2018).
Some city dwellers have always maintained an active role in their own food production. There is a long tradition of allotment gardening in the UK and Europe (Crouch 1998; Lohrberg 2016), and many Australians, particularly within migrant communities, cultivated productive home gardens throughout the 20th century (Gaynor 2006). In recent years, urban agriculture has undergone a renaissance, with young people eager to actively engage with the food system, including rising to the challenge of growing food in limited urban space. While urban agriculture can never make cities self-sufficient, it can supplement other food sources, and perhaps most crucially, it can educate people about food production.
Universities have unparalleled opportunities to capitalise on this enthusiasm for critical engagement with food systems. We can do so, not just through traditional academic work but through hands on, experiential learning. To really understand food, we need to get our hands dirty.
Theoretical Background: This project builds on and develops strategies to action the UNSW Scientia Education Model, in particular ‘Being Digital’ and ‘Inspired Learning Through Inspiring Teaching’.
Prior to 2002, a lack of institutional strategy was regarded as one of the main barriers to the implementation and embedding of eLearning in tertiary institutions. (Smith, 2002). Since then, many institutions have included eLearning into their Learning and Teaching Strategies, however most address the introduction and/or implementation of eLearning but fail to address how these might become embedded in institutional practice (DfES, 2003, Stiles, 2003) in order to remain sustainable and scalable. The successful embedding of eLearning in institutions is often impeded by the failure to effectively introduce culture change or to address change management. Critical issues such as ‘one off’ staff development training, irregular consolidation of progress, little or no evaluation, and lack of follow through serve as further obstructions (Stiles, 2004).
Consistently applied, truly innovative Blended Learning fundamentally changes the practice of teaching. If all aspects of faculty operations do not evolve considering this, then it becomes difficult to effectively scale and embed blended learning across the faculty in a consistent and sustainable manner.
Aims: The aim of this project was two-fold. First, to experiment with an experiential component of an existing elective, and second to investigate the ways other universities already use food gardens.
People, Land and Community LAWS3115/JURD7515: This course is a later year law elective that examines the role of private law in urban development. A focus of the course is how we can construct high density cities that are healthy, happy and liveable. One class is devoted to food in cities, and a number of students elect to write 5000-word research essays on urban agriculture. In the final class in s2 2018, with the assistance of Scientia Education Academy Funding, we extended the Law School’s existing food garden.
Research trip to United States: university food gardens were visited in Washington, Oregon and California. Meetings with academics and sustainability officers at eight universities.
Progress / Outcomes
1. Students constructed three raised garden beds in the sunniest part of the Law School courtyard. As this is on the Law Library roof we talked about the challenges of roof gardening, the importance of protecting buildings from drainage and water damage, and the harsh environment for plants. The University’s (safe) bore water is drawn from an aquafer, which further south is contaminated by the Orica plant at Botany, highlighting the environmental risks of growing food in cities. Some of our seeds were open pollinated seeds from Diggers Seed opening the way for a discussion of the role that home gardeners can play in saving seed diversity.
Although the class was on Friday afternoon and the very last class most students would do in their degree, every student attended, and engaged with complete enthusiasm!
2. US universities – these visits were enormously instructive. US universities have advanced composting programs, recycling vast amounts of campus food waste, which then enriches garden beds used for teaching. Many gardens were initiated by students and supported by staff. University sustainability officers now play a crucial role in their maintenance.
Image above: California State University Northridge
UNSW Urban Farm – discussions have begun with the University to secure a space for a UNSW Urban Farm. Plots would be available for staff from all faculties to use in their teaching and research. Meetings will be held in early 2019 with all interested staff and students.
- D Crouch Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs: Fifth Report, 1998 https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199798/cmselect/cmenvtra/560/56002.htm
- A Gaynor, Harvest of the Suburbs, UWA, 2006
- Frank Lohrberg, Lilli Lika, Lionella Scazzosi and Axel Timpe (eds) Urban Agriculture Europe,
- Jovis, 2016.
- Springmann et al, (2018) Nature 562, ‘Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits’ 519-525.
Faculty level contributions
- Law, Faculty Board
- Law, Qualifying Degrees Committee
UNSW level contributions
- General Editor Property Law Review 2010-2017
- Academic Fellow, Australian College of Community Association Lawyers (ACCAL)
- Editorial Board, Indigenous Law Journal 1996-2001
- Board member, National Children's and Youth Law Centre, 2010-2012
- Board member, SDN Children's Services, 2009-2011
Great teaching: that indefinable, indescribable but identifiable thing
There is much institutions can do to improve teaching. The starting point is defining the basic characteristics of good teaching and requiring teachers to meet those standards. However, there is a core element of great teaching that is beyond precise definition or easy labelling. It is that process whereby a person takes complex concepts and communicates them to others in a comprehensible way; the combination of words or actions that makes ‘the penny drop’ so that students ‘get it’. We have all experienced that lightbulb moment with a great teacher and know the joy of having mastered complex ideas. It is the single most desirable thing for students in education and students know good teaching when they see it.
In this lecture, Associate Professor Sherry explored how institutions can recognise and reward a skill that is not easily reported, in a world with ever-increasing accountability and reporting. She also discussed how we can identify and value staff, who have that crucial skill in abundance, for the sake of our students.
Click here to view the lecture recording.