Revitalising ACU’s core curriculum

A message from the acting Executive Dean of Theology and Philosophy Associate Professor Richard Colledge: Enhancing the core of our shared undergraduate curriculum.

For around ten years now, our core curriculum has been a distinguishing feature of the ACU undergraduate experience. Over that time, it has gone through various changes. Over the last year, there’s been a lot of work going into assessing its successes, identifying priority areas for improvement, and envisioning ways to respond in consultation with the wider university community. 

In addition to the extensive work done on the community engagement aspects of our core curriculum,  there has also been much effort going into the core curriculum coursework units (currently represented by the UNCC and PHCC codes). Those efforts will be accentuated over the coming months as we look to propose some exciting enhancements that would be implemented from 2025. 

The idea of having a ‘core’ set of studies that are taken by all undergraduate students, is both an ancient ideal and a bold one in the current context of hyper-specialised university degree programs. Indeed, there are some very real and important challenges involved in this endeavour. Yet a feature of many of the world’s finest Catholic universities continues to be the effort to make available to their students broadening studies that are interesting and accessible, and are imbued with key elements of the Catholic tradition of thought; studies that are holistically educative and deeply practical.   

As work has progressed over the last year, one of our key tasks has been to clarify our core curriculum’s rationale and aims: to ensure that it remains well-anchored and purposeful even as we work to allow it to thrive in new ways. A few principles have emerged:

  • The core needs to contribute directly to the fulfilment of ACU’s mission by making available to our students key aspects of the Catholic tradition in its depth and breadth, and inspiring practical social engagement in this light. 
  • It will engage with contemporary issues, providing students with historical context as helpful, and answering directly to areas of broad student interest and concern. In continuing to offer students a degree of elective choice, each unit will provide them with different points of access to, or vantage points on, a vast heritage of thought and value, with which they will enter into active examination and dialogue. 
  • While animated by a theological and philosophical core, units will find expression in a range of genres and themes. In this way, students will continue to be challenged to broaden and deepen their thinking by investigating fields beyond the explicit focus of their chosen professional or vocational coursework programs, while also enabling valuable personal and professional development relevant to their career/vocation. 
  • Each unit will focus on both understanding (new and refined perspectives on familiar problems); and, impact (engaging and making a difference in the world). 
  • While sharing a focus on key themes at the heart of the Catholic tradition in its broad humanistic scope, units will also allow students to develop key transferable skills through formative exercises and classroom activities, and will feature in assessment learning outcomes.   

I greatly look forward to developments to come over the coming months as we work in close consultation with both our internal and external stakeholders, faculties, directorates, and students themselves, to further refine and craft a revitalised core curriculum of which we can all be very proud.

Stay tuned! 

Associate Professor Richard Colledge

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