Asmi Wood's current research and publications include areas such as Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous people in Australia and Indigenous Participation in Higher Education. His PhD was in the area of International Criminal Law/ Humanitarian law and examined the legality or otherwise of the use of force by non-state actors under international law and in cases, domestic Australian law.
The Australian Parliament, both Committees and individuals, Government agencies, community organisations, schools and Indigenous groups have all used Asmi's research to clarify key issues among staff, have invited him to speak at their public events and make contributions to their literature. Asmi has presented several keynote addresses to large conferences interested in Indigenous issues including on issues such as 'recognition'.
He was made a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2017, was the recipient of the OLT Australian Award for University Teaching: Neville Bonner Award for Indigenous Education in 2015, and also the ANU Vice-Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence in 2010.
Q: What does it mean to you to be an ANU Distinguished Educator?
It is an honour and a privilege to be consider as such in this fine university. It means that my own teachers have brought me here and that I owe them the duty of paying this forward.
Q: What are you committed to?
I am committed to doing my best as a teacher. In my research I focus on the interaction between Indigenous people and their singular interactions under Anglo-Australian legal tradition. Among other things central to the law curriculum, I try to bring an understanding of this subject to my classes with a view to helping students glean perspectives from a vantage other than their own, and to do this in a safe, open and supportive learning environment.
Q: How do you plan to use your appointment as a Distinguished Educator?
I would like to contribute to promoting teaching generally at the ANU and seek opportunities to do and to encourage teaching passionately among as many academic staff as practical. I hope that we, as a university and locally as schools, can support our teachers to be the best they can and encourage teachers constantly to seek to improve the teaching and learning experience for all our students. This special position of ANU Distinguished Educator provides both the opportunity, vantage and the necessary contacts and networks that we need to bring the best learning experience to our teachers and thus to our students. My special focus in to encourage HDRs to take up teaching opportunities and to bring their research to students, to support our HDRs to do this and to take up the available opportunities to enable them to gain professional recognition such as through the Educational Fellowship Scheme at ANU.
Q: What motivates and inspires you in your teaching?
I simply love teaching the excellent cohorts that elect to come to the ANU. I benefit from the intellectual interaction with some of the cleverest and most hardworking people in our community. Their visions for the future, which they seek to build, in many cases is inspiring.
Students bring a freshness to the interaction with the knowledge generation and dissemination process and having intelligent minds examine your writing, preferred literature and thought processes is a (hopefully mutually) rewarding experience.
I also find that having socially and intellectually engaged minds focus on my own areas of research a salutary experience, as they critique (what I subjectively believe to be) my carefully thought out papers, and they do so with an almost reckless enthusiasm. The iterative process of having our ideas challenged helps to refine these positions and perhaps reminds me to take myself less seriously even on issues I believe are existential.
Q: Tell us about an approach you have taken in the classroom of which you've been proud.
The best thing is when students keep in touch with me for the duration of their studies, after immediate teaching in class has passed. Being introduced to their loved ones as someone who has touched their lives is extremely rewarding. Staying in touch as they progress through their careers and lives is a time intensive but remarkably rewarding and beneficial aspect of the privilege we enjoy as teachers.
Q: If the VC asked you how you would change teaching and learning at ANU, what would you say?
I believe that his own participation in the ANU Educational Fellowship Scheme is leadership by example. His pointed focus on teaching in our strategic plan both as written and as articulated is a great indicator of intention. I would encourage him to ensure that the action that must follow words should be fostered, encouraged and supported. Fine words are a start but if this is where it stops, falters or is only grudgingly pursued, then we must rightly be accused of failing or of being engaged in sophistry or lip-service to the noble ideal. This must rise above this unpalatable possibility for the benefit of our university and our community.