Flourishing in demanding times

A message from Executive Dean (Faculty of Education and Arts) Professor Elizabeth Labone:

As we reflect on the past year, I would like to share some of the many highlights from our faculty and research institutes.

As a world-class university, ACU has embraced innovation to adapt to the many challenges that 2020 has brought. Within our faculty, we have engaged with strategic partners, key stakeholders, and government and regulatory bodies to ensure the university retains its reputation as a leader in education and arts, providing the best possible outcomes for our students.

We have introduced key innovation and strategic learning initiatives to ensure our students continued to flourish during a time of challenge and change, and this is due in no small part to the incredible effort, adaptability, resilience, commitment and collegiality shown by our staff.

As we reflect on the year, I would like to share some of the many highlights from the Faculty of Education and Arts, as well as the two associated research institutes.

Building reputation and recognising commitment

Congratulations to Professor Noah Riseman and Professor Nell Musgrove on their success in securing grants through the ARC (Australian Research Council) Discovery Projects in what was a highly competitive round for the grants. Both projects will have excellent long-term benefits and we look forward to hearing about the outcomes.

Sincere congratulations also go to Associate Professor Catherine Bell, who received the ACU Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, and Dr Rachel Busbridge, who received the ACU Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning.

The following staff also received teaching and development grants for education innovation projects: Chrissy Monteleone, Associate Professor Maggie Nolan, Dr Kathleen McGuire, Dr Sally Humphrey and Dr Rachel Busbridge.

Innovating for the future

We have recently interviewed the first round of scholarship students for the new Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation), which will commence in 2021. The course will offer students the opportunity to engage deeply with the great thinkers of the past, through rigorous study of seminal works in philosophy, politics, religion, art, science and history. Professor Robert Carver will commence as the inaugural Director of the ACU Ramsay Program in Western Civilisation in early 2021.

The faculty launched a new suite of education programs built around a core Bachelor of Education degree. Central to the degree is a range of new units that reflect our mission and identity, and develop knowledge of the discipline, teaching practice and curriculum studies. These units respond to the development of teachers within a Catholic university as well as the changing demands in teaching practice. The programs also provide students with greater flexibility of specialisations and pathways into a broad range of teaching contexts. We will see our first students enrolled in these courses in 2021.

Strategic partnerships

The Victorian Government is investing $10 million to fast-track teacher training programs for 500 graduates and professionals to train as teachers, filling hard-to-staff positions in secondary schools and specialist schools across Victoria. ACU is one of the chosen providers, partnering with Victoria’s Department of Education and Training for the innovative ITE program. ACU will offer the resulting Master of Teaching (Secondary) (Internship) on the Melbourne Campus from Semester 1, 2021.

We have recently welcomed 180 students into our new co-designed Teach for Australia program. This program builds on knowledge and experience gained from our partnership with Teach for Australia to create a unique employment-based teacher education degree that moves away from partitioned knowledge development to integrated work-based learning.

A new postgraduate offering for 2021 is the Graduate Certificate in Education (Highly Accomplished/Lead Educational Practice) (HALT), which was developed in partnership with Catholic Schools NSW. This award program supports educators to develop HALT accreditation, and the faculty is working with our partners to offer sponsorship to enable students to participate in it.

New leadership for National of School of Arts

We welcomed Professor Diana Glenn to the role of National Head, School of Arts. Diana is a leading Dante Studies scholar and has a well-established international reputation in language and literary studies and cultural studies, with a significant record of research outputs. Diana has extensive experience in strategic leadership and significant governance experience. She has designed and led innovations in interdisciplinary course development, student experience and retention, digital uplift and industry engagement. Diana’s leadership experience is well aligned with the strategic directions of ACU.

Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences highlights

In its inaugural year, the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences can record several highlights. These include:

  • The running of a highly successful monthly seminar program of contemporary issues, The Friday Forum, which drew together the ACU community.
  • Kate Fullagar was awarded the general history prize in the NSW Premier’s History Prize Award for The Warrior, the Voyager, and the Artist: Three Lives in an Age of Empire.
  • Susan Broomhall received an ARC Discovery grant on A History of Early Modern Natural Resource Management.
  • Amanda Nettelbeck was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences.
  • Joy Damousi completed her term as the President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.
Highlights from the Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

It has been a productive year for researchers at the Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education. Highlights include:

  • A multidisciplinary team has been awarded funding from the federal Department of Education and Training to investigate performance pathways in teacher education. Outcomes will include evidence of the variables associated with successful completion and separation, and provide the country’s first empirical data on the utility of ATAR as a predictor of success in teacher education.
  • The Graduate Teacher Performance Assessment (GTPA) research team was awarded second place in the 6th e-Learning Excellence Awards Ceremony for their submission: Learning to Improve Quality of Teacher Education: Collaboration in Digital Infrastructure, Data and Visualisation.
  • The GTPA research team was a finalist in the Education Technology category of the Australian Financial Review (AFR) Higher Education Awards 2020. Their submission presented the customised design and use of digital technology in building Australia’s evidence base to show the quality and impact of teacher education in Australia.
  • The Playgroup for Learning Team was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Award for Excellence in Research and Research Partnership for their work on understanding the benefits of playgroup participation among young children, now and in later life.
  • ACU’s Professor Kathy Mills was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Excellence Award for Excellence in Research and Research Partnerships. A leading scholar globally, she has been credited for forging innovative international and national partnerships with government, industry and Indigenous communities, and creating a research impact that empowers students and supports enriched teacher pedagogies.

I welcome the broad engagement of staff across campuses and portfolios to strengthen our faculty’s and our institutes’ contributions to ACU, driving academic outcomes for all our students and staff. Our commitment to innovation and purpose increases our presence and reputation within the market. I look forward to building on our continued successes in 2021 and beyond.

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