This open textbook is funded by a University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Open Educational Practice (OEP) Grant and informed by this institution’s social justice plan. It is divided into three parts. Part A offers an introduction to memorials and monuments and discusses the choices made by artists and designers and their use of design elements and principles in the creation and siting of memorials and monuments. These choices assist and inform viewers in their ‘reading’ of monuments and memorials which is further informed by their inherent symbolic, aesthetic, historical and political dimensions. Part B explores commemorative monuments and memorials, counter memorials and monuments, and how an understanding of conflict – and at times the ignoring or denial of it – has shaped national understandings of democracy, human rights and social justice. Part C offers educators and students a practical guide to using monuments and memorials as learning resources to enhance their understanding of social justice through: content mastery; tools for critical analysis; tools for social change; tools for personal reflection; and an awareness of multicultural group dynamics (Hackman, 2005, p. 104).

This open textbook will guide educators and students through the process of using local monuments and memorials to contextualise, interrogate and extend their knowledge of historical events at a national and international level. Students will learn how to use local history to create an organic patchwork of local stories, interviews, photographs and artefacts contributed by, and for, the community and contextualised nationally and internationally. Through this process they will assume the role of historians rather than passive consumers of dominant ideologies and understand how historical events have shaped diverse views, including their own, of issues such as social justice, democracy, human rights and citizenship. This will be undertaken through focusing on the symbolic, aesthetic, historical and political dimensions of memorials and monuments in relation to their socialcultural and political contexts. Engagement in these processes will contribute to the participants’ roles as future educators who are well-informed, critical and creative thinkers, effective communicators and collaborators, ethical and engaged professionals and citizens, and culturally capable individuals.

Open Educational Resources (OER) provide access to reliable, engaging and affordable historical sources and are a response to the substantial financial burden faced by students when purchasing traditional textbooks (Boissy, 2016). Open textbooks adopt an ‘open’ copyright licence, which allows the materials to be freely accessed, shared and adapted. Costello et al. (2018) argue that the tradition of open education goes back several centuries in various forms. Peter and Deimann (2013) frame this argument in a broader sense and contend that increasing access to education is a public good and part of a broader social change. Petrides et al. (2011) argue that open textbooks can enhance interactivity between educators and students and enhance learner-centred and self-directed learning. They also found that students felt empowered to pursue their own line of enquiry using open textbooks. Most importantly, students can be actively involved in the development of OER as co-creators of the material which is evidenced in the contribution of USQ students and the university and wider community to this open textbook initiative.


Boissy, R. W. (2016). The affordable textbook revolution. Against the Grain, 28(5).

Costello, E., Brown, M., Brunton, R., & Soverino, T. (2018). Textbook costs and accessibility: Could open textbooks play a role? In K. Ntalianis, A. Andreatos & C. Sgouropoulou (Eds.), Proceedings of the 17th European Conference on e-Learning (pp. 99–106). Academic Conferences and Publishing International Limited.

Hackman, H. W. (2005). Five essential components for social justice education. Equity & Excellence in Education, 38(2), 103-109.

Peter, S., & Deimann, N. (2013). On the role of openness in education: A historical reconstruction. Open Praxis, 5(1), 7-14.

Petrides, L., Jimes, C., Middleton-Detzner, C., Walling, J., & Weiss, S. (2011). Open textbook adoption and use: Implications for teachers and learners. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 26(1), 39-49.

Wiley, D. (2007). On the sustainability of open educational resource initiatives in higher education. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI).


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A Possession Forever by University of Southern Queensland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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