Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit is an experience of doing theology in the context of immersion, which includes volunteer experience, among the poor and marginal(ised) in a developing country such as Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Cambodia and other locations that are relevant and appropriate. The unit will consider the relationship between Christian theology, immersion and service learning based on the perspective of Christian theology as "faith seeking empowering understanding" or, in the words of liberation theologians, as "a hermeneutic of hope." It will explore from a theoretical and practical perspective the missionary imperative of Christianity through immersion among the poor and the marginal(ised) and their struggles, as well as critical analysis and reflection by the students on their immersion experience with the help of the study of selected key texts on "the faith that does justice" and lives out the Gospel in contemporary times. This experience-based theological study will reveal how "action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world" is "a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church's mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation" (Justice in the World, no. 6).

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 - understand the contexts of the immersion location (GA8) 

LO2 - analyse and reflect critically on their immersion experience (GA4) 

LO3 - investigate and evaluate community and civic engagement among Christians vis-a-vis a key social issue common to both the immersion location and Australia (GA5) 

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include: 

  • Preparing for immersion and service learning in a cross-cultural context 
  • Survey and analysis of the key social issues of the immersion location with the help of input from a notable theologian or social scientist in the immersion location 
  • Education and the faith that does justice 
  • Service learning in the Christian, especially Catholic, tradition  
  • Liberationist theologies and the relationship between theology, hope and service 
  • Evangelii Gaudium (especially Chapter 1 and Chapter 5) and relevant documents from the Christian Churches, particularly the Catholic Church, in the immersion location 
  • The Pastoral Spiral and the role of praxis in theology 
  • Key themes or principles in Christian social doctrine, particularly Catholic Social Thought 
  • Biblical and theological perspectives on service and community engagement  
  • Spirituality of Immersion and Service  

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 300 hours of focused learning. As an experience-based theological study the total includes immersion and volunteer experience as well as formally structured learning activities such as pre-departure (preparatory) Adobe Connect Classroom online sessions, lectures (including a guest lecture), and online learning, particularly through the Forum and learning materials in the LEO (Learning Environment Online) page for the unit. The remaining hours involve reading, journal writing, research, preparation of tasks for assessment and supervision, where relevant and appropriate. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements and taking into account the experience-based character of the unit. Such procedures may include, but are not limited to, an essays, report, examination, critically-reflective presentation and case study. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Brief Written Task 

For example: Brief response to open-ended short essay or objective questions on two or three selected key texts that will be completed before departure as a way of helping to prepare the students by equipping them with key background knowledge on the immersion location, e.g. contextual theology prior to travelling 


(2000 words) 



Creative Presentation  

For example: Critical analysis and reflection (with the use of their travel journal) of their immersion experience using Kaltura media presentation  


(25 minutes) 



Extended Written Task 

For example: Research essay applying liberationist theological methods to investigate and evaluate Christian community and civic engagement vis-a-vis a key social issue common to both the immersion location and Australia  


(4500 words) 



Representative texts and references

Aaker, Jerry. A Spirituality of Service: Reflections on a Life-Long Journey of Faith and Work among the World’s Poor (Middleton, WI: Pfeifer-Hamilton Publishers, 2012). 

Australian Catholic Social Justice Council. Social Justice in Everyday Life (Sydney: ACSJC, 1990). 

Bergman, Roger. Catholic Social Learning: Educating the Faith That Does Justice (New York: Fordham University Press, 2011) 

Cimperman, Maria. Social Analysis for the 21st Century (New York: Orbis, 2015). 

Cress, Christine et. al. Learning Through Serving: A Student Guidebook for Service Learning and Civic Engagement Across Academic Disciplines and Cultural Communities (Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, 2013). 

Egan, Luke et. al. Hope as a Basis for Understanding the Benefits and Possibilities of Community Engagement (Sydney: ACU National, 2008). 

Gutierrez, Gustavo and Gerhard Ludwig Mueller. On the Side of the Poor: The Theology of Liberation (New York: Orbis, 2015). 

Massaro, Thomas S.J. Living Justice: Catholic Social Teaching in Action (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2016). 

Pope Francis. Evangelii Gaudium: Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World (especially Chapter 1 and Chapter 5). Available at  

Toton, Suzanne. Justice Education: From Service to Solidarity (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 2006). 

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