A conversation on ACU's research themes

A message from Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) Professor James McLaren: As a Catholic university, ACU is committed to research that improves the lives of all.

Over the past several weeks I have attended meetings with staff in schools, faculties, institutes, and other organisational units about how we can progress the university’s Research and Enterprise Plan and enable ACU to achieve world-leading research with impact.

The next part of this conversation is to distil large-scale, significant social issues into a set of themes that can anchor ACU’s future research and enterprise agenda. As a Catholic university, ACU is committed to research that improves the lives of all, especially those in greatest need.

For many years ACU has relied on discipline-based descriptions to signal our areas of research focus, in particular naming health, education and theology and philosophy as priority disciplines. In the context of the Strategic Plan 2020–2023 and the associated Research and Enterprise Plan 2022–2023, we have an opportunity to recalibrate ACU’s research expertise. The intention is to move from the current discipline-based descriptions to broad, mission-driven programmatic themes.

This recalibration will have three immediate benefits: it will provide clarity for end users and the wider community regarding the nature of ACU’s distinctive contribution to society; it will enable opportunity for dialogue and collaboration by all the areas of discipline expertise within the university; and it will foster the fundamental connection between research and learning.

Commencing this week, we will undertake a three-month conversation process to identify up to five themes through which we can contribute to the flourishing of the common good. The themes will articulate the university’s commitment to creating a better future for humanity.

The underlying principles are that the themes:

  • come from and, in turn, express the mission and vision of ACU
  • be public facing and future orientated
  • build on existing strengths but not be discipline specific
  • ensure a distinctive footprint in what is a crowded marketplace; and
  • be inclusive and sustainable.

There will be multiple opportunities, including workshops and online discussions, for ACU staff to contribute to the conversation about identifying the themes. We will also seek input from key stakeholders, industry partners and alumni. At the conclusion, a summary of the proposed research themes, including the supporting rationale and plan for implementation, will be submitted to the Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for consideration.

The Research and Enterprise staff and I very much look forward to working with you on this important task and I strongly encourage you to participate in the conversation.

Follow Research and Enterprise Updates on Workplace for further details on how you can contribute to this next stage in ACU’s growth as a Catholic university.

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