Australian Aboriginal knowledge transfer – the latest book of Karl-Erik Sveiby

[German title: Wie die australischen Uhreinwohner Wissen übertragen – das neuste Buch von Karl-Eric Sveiby]

Sveiby, K.-E..; Skuthorpe, T.: Treading Lightly: The hidden wisdom of the world’s oldest people. Allen & Unwin (Indigenous peoples), 2006. 304 p.; ISBN: 174114874X (pbk)

Abstract: Australian Aboriginals taught themselves thousands of years ago how to build a sustainable society in our fragile landscape. In a unique collaboration, a Swedish knowledge management professor finds out from an Aboriginal cultural custodian how they did it, and what we can learn from them.

We are consuming more than our earth can provide. In Australia, cities and towns struggle to maintain a reliable water supply, climate change triggers droughts which devastate farmland, and fish stocks are running low. It is increasingly clear that we are heading towards collapse if we don’t change direction.

Aboriginal people taught themselves thousands of years ago how to live sustainably in Australia’s fragile landscape. A Scandinavian knowledge management professor meets an Aboriginal cultural custodian and dares to ask the simple but vital question: what can we learn from the traditional Aboriginal lifestyle to create a sustainable society in modern Australia?

Karl-Erik Sveiby and Tex Skuthorpe show how traditional Aboriginal stories and paintings were used to convey knowledge from one generation to the next, about the environment, law and relationships. They reveal the hidden art of four-level storytelling, and discuss how the stories, and the way they were used, formed the basis for a sustainable society. They also explain ecological farming methods, and how the Aboriginal style of leadership created resilient societies.

Treading Lightly takes us on a unique journey into traditional Aboriginal life and culture, and offers a powerful and original model for building sustainable organisations, communities and ecologies. It is a compelling message for today’s world.

Authors:  KARL-ERIK SVEIBY has for several years been Professor of Knowledge Management at Hanken Business School, Finland, and Honorary Professor at Griffith Graduate School of Management, Brisbane, and at Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Sydney. He is the author of twelve books in business and management.
TEX SKUTHORPE is a Nhunggabarra man from Nhunggal country in northwestern New South Wales and a painter, educator and custodian of traditional law and stories. He was awarded Aboriginal Artist of the Year by NAIDOC in 1990/1991 and currently works with young Aboriginal offenders in Kariong Correctional Centre, New South Wales.

See companion website and publisher’s website of the book.

© Allen & Unwin 2006.


Australian Aboriginal knowledge transfer – the latest book of Karl-Erik Sveiby — 1 Comment

  1. Treading Lightly – The Film
    kontentreal, 2008;
    90 minutes; Director: Tom Jeffrey

    “Treading Lightly is a compelling two-hour documentary that examines how the principles that sustained Aboriginal culture, law and economy successfully for more than 40,000 years can be applied to today’s highly competitive global economy and society.” (source: Documentary Australia Foundation)

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