Australian Catholic University annual review 2008
Community and Mission
The University's Mission informs all the University’s undertakings, bringing considerations of ethical and social justice issues into the core activities of both research and student learning.
There are numerous ongoing distinctive social justice programs at the University, including programs that offer tertiary level courses to communities that are otherwise locked out of higher education in Australia and abroad. The University places emphasis on research and teaching to improve educational and health outcomes for Indigenous Australians.
There are also a host of student initiatives, awards for Community Engagement and public discussion forums.
In 2008, there were two specific bodies within the University which are particularly charged with the responsibility of enacting the Mission of the University:
- the Goals Committee, whose aims are to embed the University’s Catholic identity into its structures, functions and practices and to address the many challenges of the University’s Mission statement
- the Institute for the Advancement of Community Engagement (IACE), with its ongoing programs in areas Beyond Differences, Beyond Disadvantage and Beyond Borders
The University's commitment to social justice and equity is particularly manifested in the work accomplished by the IACE.
The Institute's Beyond Borders programs seek to reach out to communities abroad who are most in need. The ACU Refugee Project on the Thai-Burma Border is one such example.
Because Burmese refugees on the Thai-Burma border cannot leave their camps, education opportunities are severely limited. The University has provided online courses in business and theology to these people.
A Diploma in Liberal Studies was introduced late in 2008, in partnership with various Jesuit universities.
38 Bachelor of Teaching graduates from the Baucau Catholic Teachers’ College in East Timor also graduated with degrees from ACU in 2008.
The Institute has also facilitated the University in offering tertiary level courses to the homeless and disadvantaged across Australia through the Clemente Australia Program.
Community engagement and the Bradley Review
This important paper in 2008 discussed in some depth ideas of community engagement which have been incorporated into our University’s approach in this area, as follows.
Higher education contributes to Australia’s economic, social and cultural capital most directly through teaching and research.
Over the last decade national and international commentators have also noted a significant trend among many universities towards a third function, which has been described using a range of terms such as “knowledge transfer”, ”community service”, ”community engagement” and ”the third stream”…
…The Third Stream is about the interactions between universities and the rest of society… The Science and Technology Policy Research Unit argues that this goes beyond the commercialisation of research.
Universities make contributions to government and civil society as well as the private sector, assisting not only with economic performance but also helping to improve quality of life and the effectiveness of public services.
As the Bradley discussion paper notes, this important function of universities is now recognised by UK and US classifications to include ”community engagement”, as well as being an important component of university activity in the Australian national Protocols for Higher Education Processes.
Read about some of the recognition the University and its staff received for community engagement in 2008
Download full section on the University's Mission and Identity (PDF, 189kb)