New and broader horizons

A message from the acting Executive Dean of Theology and Philosophy Associate Professor Richard Colledge:

Semester 2 forges ahead with the freshness of the new teaching period already turning to early assessment tasks. It’s great to see my local Brisbane campus filled with the buzz of a still-newish semester, as the season starts to show signs of turning toward warmer months to come.

FTP leadership updates

The last few months have seen a significant shuffle in the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy’s (FTP) leadership ranks. First and foremost, we learned back in June that Professor Dermot Nestor will be completing his term as Executive Dean after eight years of dedicated service in this role.

I would like to acknowledge Professor Nestor’s exceptional contribution to both the Faculty and wider university over this time. Professor Nestor has led with distinction, genuine collegiality, imagination and humanity.

Some of his many achievements include:

  • his guidance of ACU’s seven-year formal commitment to the Laudato Si’ Action Platform and the integral ecology element of the Global Compact for Education
  • fostering a range of postgraduate coursework programs in partnership with Catholic stakeholders
  • the development of the Xavier Centre for Theological Formation, offering a range of tailored professional learning and formation opportunities for lay persons, religious and clergy across Australia
  • establishing the Ministry Leadership Program that provides for executive leaders of Catholic ministries
  • the development of our new Doctor of Ministry
  • leading the development of various international partnerships.

Dermot will remain with us, albeit in a different capacity, and I look forward to working with him into the future. We also look forward to appointing a new FTP Executive Dean in due course.

During the period in which I have taken on Acting Executive Dean duties, Dr Ian Elmer has taken on the key role of Acting Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching). With the impending retirement of Associate Professor Michael Buchanan – after more than 20 years of service to ACU across both the Faculty of Education and Arts and the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy – Dr Joel Hodge has taken on the role of Acting Head of the School of Theology.

I have enjoyed working with both Dr Elmer and Dr Hodge over the last couple of months, as we strive to maintain the Faculty’s momentum during this period of change.

In other academic staff news, we have recently welcomed Associate Professor Matthew Sharpe who joins us at the Melbourne campus from Deakin University.

New teaching initiatives

In the teaching space, FTP forges ahead with the rest of ACU on a range of new initiatives including:

  • our migration to Canvas which has started with the launch of a strong field of postgraduate units this semester
  • preparing for the full implementation the ‘Thrive’ model for our first-year units
  • transitioning to the new Graduate Attributes and Graduate Capabilities
  • crafting our new Coursework Governance structure that will involve Course Monitoring Committees and smaller Course Teams that will take close note of new university benchmarks.

Meanwhile, we are also working hard to bed down new courses such as the Doctor of Ministry, the Master of Spiritual Direction, and the Graduate Diploma in Supervision while working on a series of other new award and non-award initiatives with external partners.

The Core Curriculum Revitalisation Project

We are moving toward the business end of the Core Curriculum Revitalisation Project. This will involve another more focused round of consultation across the university before moving into the curriculum development phase, with a view to 2025 implementation.

This is a genuinely exciting project that will provide our future students with a highly attractive set of coursework options, while lending a distinctive edge to an ACU education that is well aligned to the university’s ‘Vision 2033’ ambitions.

Research and engagement

This is also a time of significant development in the research space, as FTP joins with other faculties in refining our research and enterprise strategies.

We are strongly focused on building our HDR cohort and strengthening the research environment for our students. To this end, Associate Dean (Research) Professor Michael Champion has been leading the development of new, clearly articulated pathways from our three Masters programs and embedding improved research training that sets graduates up for HDR success.

We are working to deepen the connections between our two schools and research institutes (IRCI and Dianoia), while furthering research publication quality and volume, enhancing impact and engagement activity, and implementing better support structures to facilitate external funding applications.

FTP continues to engage strongly across the sector, hosting various seminars with international partners at our Rome campus and closer to home. In June and July, we hosted two international Philosophy conferences in Melbourne: a two-day hybrid event co-hosted with Deakin University on the philosophy of perception, as well as the 100th Anniversary conference of the Australasian Association of Philosophy as outlined in this same Bulletin article.

Plenty happening and much more to come!

Associate Professor Richard Colledge

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