In October 2015 seven ACU staff participated in the second Learning and Teaching Centre (LTC) Study Tour of South Korea. The purpose of the tour was to strengthen connections with partner Catholic universities and to investigate possible innovations in teaching practices.
The study tour was sponsored and led by Professor Anne Cummins, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students, Learning and Teaching), and directed by Professor Kevin Ashford-Rowe, Director LTC. A teaching focussed academic from each Faculty and a representative from the Library participated. The group comprised of the following staff: Professor Anne Cummins (DVC SLT); Professor Kevin Ashford-Rowe (LTC); Dr Ian Elmer (FTP); Ms Ellen McBarron (FLB); Mrs Miriam Tanti (FEA); Dr Georgia Clarkson (FHS) and Ms Freya Bruce (Library). In what proved to be a busy week, three universities were visited: The Catholic University of Korea; Sogang University and The Catholic University of Daegu.
In keeping with the generosity of the people of Korea, ACU delegates were warmly welcomed by staff from the various universities. Despite the differences between ACU and the Korean universities, strong connections were forged on the basis of the commonalities between the hosts and the visitors. These connections were based on common identity, familiar challenges in learning and teaching within organisations and mutual cross-cultural curiosity. The host universities were very keen to engage with ACU staff in relation to the challenges faced in learning and teaching, technological innovations and matters related to Catholic Social Teaching.
The ACU delegation also had the opportunity to meet with the Archbishop of Seoul’s representative, His Excellency, Bishop Basil Cho, Kyu-man, Vicar General of Archdiocese of Seoul. In a brief but informative discussion much was shared about the nature of Catholicism in South Korea and the challenges faced by the Church in contemporary South Korean society.
A visit to the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) separating South and North Korea on the final day of the study tour provided a tangible reminder of the fundamental importance of education. The stark contrast between the North where education is used as an oppressive force and the South where education has been used as a means of providing a foundation for a thriving economy and society was palpable.
The tour also provided an opportunity to forge connections within ACU across faculties and other organisational structures. In an organisation with such a complex structure, the tour provided an opportunity to discuss challenges faced within various areas and identify potential synergies and solutions.
Discussions within the ACU group indicated that, from a learning and teaching perspective, common challenges are encountered within various faculties and disciplines. In true Korean style, many of the potential ways of addressing these challenges were discussed with the aid of sharing amazing food. The tour has opened the door for further productive discussions among the ACU group which will contribute to innovative advancement in learning and teaching across the University for the ultimate benefit of our students.
It is anticipated that the connections strengthened on the tour will form the foundation for collaboration with the South Korean universities into the future.