ACU (Australian Catholic University)


Issue 8, Autumn 2013

Research across borders

Research across borders

Collaborating to develop leaders, build partnerships and advance research opens up a world of opportunity. When two institutions collaborate for the common good, the results are even more significant. Caitlin Ganter spoke with Professor Peter Steane about one such project 

Natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis seem unlikely, yet a single occurrence can cause widespread devastation. Healthcare policy is another vital subject, with the survival and wellbeing of the population literally depending on it.

Successful management of regional development issues is essential, yet even for the wealthiest nations it can be difficult to get right. For developing countries these concerns are even more pertinent with fewer resources at their disposal to cope with unexpected problems. 

To help address these issues, ACU, in partnership with Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, was awarded an Australian Leadership Awards (ALA) Fellowship grant.

The aim of ALA Fellowships is to address priority regional development issues, develop leadership, and build partnerships and links between Australian organisations and their partner organisations in developing countries.

Valued at $242,000, the AusAID funding  will allow ACU and Ateneo to build the research skills, knowledge and awareness of current and aspiring leaders from among the Ateneo staff. 

ACU’s Professor Peter Steane, Associate Dean (International) from the Faculty of Business and Chair of the Collaborative Research Network Steering Group, said this project will have many benefits.

“Professor John Rodwell and I are supervising 13 Ateneo Fellows during their research projects,” he said. “We have done a lot of work regarding health management and saw this as an opportunity to develop close research links with Ateneo, a prestigious university we are honoured to work with."

“We have designed the project around a suite of research fields we share with Ateneo such as sustainability, disaster management, research policy, and health management.”

“Social justice and common good link us together, and this project reflects that. The research into disaster management and sustainable leadership is very relevant to the Philippines, including Manila, which has had to deal with similar issues in the past.”

“Ateneo is a leading university in the Philippines and is seeking to develop a stronger research presence and enhance the innovative capacity of the country. The development of these senior and high potential staff will enhance their personal research skills, and more importantly, will enable the Fellows to be catalysts for developing a stronger research culture within Ateneo and tertiary education in the Philippines.”

The research projects of the Ateneo Fellows are consistent with the research assessment systems and trends around the world, as well as the issues associated with university ranking systems.

“The program is a combination of the academic study of these areas and a dialogue throughout the program about the impact of the key forces in the international research policy environment on the execution of research activities at the local level in  the Philippines.”

“As part of the project, the Fellows visited us in Australia and attended a series of discussions around sustainability, research policy and disaster management – expert speakers from around Australia presented. We will welcome them to ACU twice during the project.”

“Both ACU and Ateneo share similar values, and both universities share a Catholic ethos, so this project allows us to build collaborative links with a leading international university with common goals.”

“There is a network of Catholic universities around the world that ACU has research and student exchange links with. Ateneo de Manila is a Jesuit university, and is associated with ACU’s business faculty membership to the International Association of Jesuit  Business Schools.”  
Professor Rudy Ang, Dean of the John Gokongwei School of Management at Ateneo, said the program resulted from years of collaboration between the two universities. “We share so many interests and priorities that there are endless possibilities for collaboration, not just in research, but also in community engagement and outreach,” he said.

“We were grateful to meet ACU staff who have not just engaged in theory-building research, but have been engaged in action research, in community engagement, and in policy-building research. This sort of exchange could not have been possible if we had been doing this with another university who was not mission aligned, and this makes ACU exactly the right partner for us.”

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