Credit points


Campus offering

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THCT603 Theology for Leadership in the Churchs Mission and (EDLE638 Faith Leadership or EDLE632 Leading Spirituality )

Unit rationale, description and aim

This interdisciplinary unit focuses on the implications of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) for the exercise of leadership within Church organisations and agencies. It builds on an understanding of CST, requiring students to rearticulate the fundamental principles of CST in light of 'the signs of the times' and in terms of issues in their own organisational contexts, to which they will need to develop personal, informed and considered responses. The unit focuses on leadership as an ethical and relational process of influence and on leaders as moral human beings as well as efficient managers and productive professionals. It offers insights into models and frameworks for leadership as an ethical process within the context of CST.

This unit aims to provide participants with insights into models and frameworks for leadership as an ethical process within the context of Catholic Social Teaching.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify the core concepts of CST, such as human dignity, the common good, solidarity, subsidiarity, the dignity of work, and the preferential option for the poor (GA1, GA3; APST 6.3; APSP 1);

LO2 - Identify, understand and analyse some of the challenges typically arising in the exercise of leadership within an organisation from the perspective of CST and biblical and theological understandings of the person and of social justice (GA4; APST 6.2; APSP 4);

LO3 - Make a critical evaluation of behaviours with implications for leadership based on knowledge of the principles of  Catholic Social Teaching (GA4; APST 6.1; APSP 2);

LO4 - Work collaboratively to understand and develop productive and authentic responses to organisational structures, policies and practices that compromise CST (GA3; GA6; GA7; APST 6.3; APSP 5);

LO5 - Articulate a personal model of leadership that integrates knowledge of contemporary conceptualisations of leadership and CST (GA4; GA5; APST 6.1; APSP 2; 3).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 


On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence towards the following standards:

6.1 - Identify and plan professional learning needs

Use comprehensive knowledge of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers to plan and lead the development of professional learning policies and programs that address the professional learning needs of colleagues and pre-service teachers

6.2 -Engage in professional learning and improve practice

Initiate collaborative relationships to expand professional learning opportunities, engage in research, and provide quality opportunities and placements for pre-service teachers.

6.3 - Engage with colleagues and improve practice

Implement professional dialogue within the school or professional learning network(s) that is informed by feedback, analysis of current research and practice to improve the educational outcomes of students. 


In addition to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers this unit addresses the following Professional Practices

1. Professional Practice: Leading teaching and learning

Principals create a positive culture of challenge and support, enabling effective teaching that promotes enthusiastic, independent learners, committed to lifelong learning. Principals have a key responsibility for developing a culture of effective teaching, for leading, designing and managing the quality of teaching and learning and for students’ achievement in all aspects of their development. They set high expectations for the whole school through careful collaborative planning, monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of learning. Principals set high standards of behaviour and attendance, encouraging active engagement and a strong student voice.

2. Professional Practice: Developing self and others

Principals work with and through others to build a professional learning community that is focused on continuous improvement of teaching and learning. Through managing performance, effective continuing professional learning and feedback, they support all staff to achieve high standards and develop their leadership capacity. Principals support others to build capacity and treat people fairly and with respect. They model effective leadership and are committed to their own ongoing professional development and personal health and wellbeing in order to manage the complexity of the role and the range of learning capabilities and actions required of the role.

3 Professional Practice: Leading improvement, innovation and change

Principals work with others to produce and implement clear, evidence-based improvement plans and policies for the development of the school and its facilities. They recognise that a crucial part of the role is to lead and manage innovation and change to ensure the vision and strategic plan is put into action across the school and that its goals and intentions are realised.

4. Professional Practice: Leading the management of the school

Principals use a range of data management methods and technologies to ensure that the school’s resources and staff are efficiently organised and managed to provide an effective and safe learning environment as well as value for money. This includes appropriate delegation of tasks to members of the staff and the monitoring of accountabilities. Principals ensure these accountabilities are met. They seek to build a successful school through effective collaboration with school boards, governing bodies, parents and others. They use a range of technologies effectively and efficiently to manage the school.

5. Professional Practice: Engaging and working with the community

Principals embrace inclusion and help build a culture of high expectations that takes account of the richness and diversity of the wider school community and the education systems and sectors. They develop and maintain positive partnerships with students, families and carers and all those associated with the wider school community. They create an ethos of respect taking account of the spiritual, moral, social and physical health and wellbeing of students. They promote sound lifelong learning from preschool through to adult life. They recognise the multicultural nature of Australia’s people. They foster understanding and reconciliation with Indigenous cultures. They recognise and use the rich and diverse linguistic and cultural resources in the school community. They recognise and support the needs of students, families and carers from communities facing complex challenges.


Topics will include:

  • A critical review of CST and its core principles
  • An exploration of CST within the framework of Vatican II’s call to be attentive to “the signs of the times”
  • An overview of the contribution of the Australian Catholic Bishops to CST in the Australian context through the social justice statements and other documents
  • The implications of CST for the exercise of leadership in the context of Catholic education settings and agenies
  • The role of values, beliefs, motivations and virtues in a leader’s ethical and moral behavior in the context of leadership in a Catholic school or agency
  • Frameworks and models for ethical decision-making including classical and contemporary approaches to the study of valuing and ethical leadership: the Greeks, Hodgkinson, Starrat, Shapiro, Stefkovich and Branson
  • Development of a personal philosophy and model of leadership that integrates Catholic social teaching
  • Analysis of contemporary challenges in Catholic organisations in the context of CST.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Cooperative, collaborative, engaging, contemporary learning experiences that apply inquiry, dialogue and narrative to the engagement of faith and culture will be provided. Student learning will be supported by the online learning management system. The unit may be offered in intensive residential mode.

This unit is offered in Residence at the Catholic Leadership Centre, Melbourne


This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video, workshops, and assignments etc. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks and their weightings are designed to allow participants to progressively demonstrate achievement against the unit learning outcomes and demonstrate attainment of professional standards.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assignment Task 1

Develop a credo for your exercise of leadership that integrates:

  • Catholic social teaching incorporating Church documents,
  • Biblical references,
  • Theological reflection and
  • Leadership theory.

(It must reflect each of these reference points.) 


LO1, LO5

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5

Assignment Task 2

Case Study

Identify and analyse a challenge arising from the exercise of leadership from the perspective of Catholic Social Teaching. Discuss options for resolving the challenge that included a contemporary conceptualisation of leadership and Catholic Social Teaching.


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA6, GA7


A research paper on a selected issue with the approval of the Lecturer-in-Charge


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA3, GA4, GA7

Representative texts and references

Branson, C .M. (2006). Beyond authenticity: Contemporary leadership from a world view perspective, Values and Ethics in Educational Administration, 4(4).

Darring, G. (2012). Catholic social teaching: Guide to a more just world. North Charleston: CreateSpace.

Duigan, P., Butcher, J., Spies-Butcher, B., & Collins, J. (2005). Socially responsible indicators: A framework for action in service organisations. Sydney: Australian Catholic University.

Herrick, A. (2012). Catholic Social Teaching: Christian life in society – teacher guide. Winona, MN: St Mary’s Press.

Himes, K, et al. eds. Modern Catholic Social Teaching: Commentaries and Interpretations. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2005.

Hodgkinson, C. (2002). Victoria’s secret: A rejoinder and an agenda. Values and Ethics in Educational Administration Journal, 1(2), pp.1-7.

Manning, K. (2009). Work and dignity: Pastoral letters for the feast of St Joseph the Worker. Alexandria, N.S.W.: Australian Catholic Social Justice Council.

McDonald, Daniel. (ed.). (2004). Catholic Social Teaching in Global Perspective. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis.

Singer-Towns, B. (2012). Catholic social teaching: Christian life in society. Winona, MN: St Mary’s Press.

 Starratt, R. J. (2004). Ethical leadership. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

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