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Campus offering

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THEO568 Catholic Ethos and Care of the Human Person

Teaching organisation

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, tutorials, online learning, video-conferencing, or supervision. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Leaders and aspiring leaders of contemporary Catholic organisations require knowledge of the theological foundations for the exercise of their roles in order to embrace fully their organisations’ missions. They need the capacity to think theologically about the persons who comprise Catholic organisations as well as their part in their organisations’ current and future cultural realities.

Participants examine Catholic understandings of the human condition, and in particular the existential and spiritual aspects of caring and providing for the flourishing of persons in society, especially those who experience multiple and complex forms of vulnerability. They also explore the nature and distinctive features of Catholic Christianity, including the Christological content of its sacramental, ecclesial, and spiritual mission-dimensions, and analyse how Catholicity informs and interacts with culture.

As the introductory unit in the Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Catholic Culture, this unit aims to resource participants with the Christian understanding of the human person (theological anthropology) that can ground theologically informed decision-making in organisational environments.

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 - describe the mission of Jesus and the church (GA1, GA5);

LO2 - demonstrate an understanding of how distinctive elements of Catholicity (e.g., habits of mind, ritual and communal action, spirituality and prayer) pertain to the care of persons in the communal and social contexts of contemporary Australia (GA5);

LO3 - draw critically and appropriately on the resources and language of Catholic tradition to explain key theological, ethical and leadership perspectives on the care of the human person (GA4, GA5, GA10);

LO4 - apply theological and ethical principles to contemporary health, aged care, education and social service contexts (GA1, GA4, GA5)

Graduate attributes

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

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively


This unit emphasizes the key dimensions of a Catholic conception of the care of the human person.

  • Christian anthropology, with particular attention to themes of suffering and finitude; wholeness and hospitality; relationality and identity
  • The healing mission of Jesus and the healing ministries of the Church
  • Forms of spirituality and prayer in Christian tradition
  • Theological and ethical foundations of Catholic culture
  • Catholic understandings of the sacramental life and its relationship to the care of persons and community

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The learning and teaching strategy utilized in this unit draws extensively upon nearly 500 years of Jesuit educational philosophy and practice found in the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (IPP). The IPP understands learning and teaching as sequenced in exploration of context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation. This process enables participants’ readiness to engage in a learning process that is transformative of the whole person, mind and heart. The learning process that it facilitates draws on the Christian view of the human person in its structure and content, for example, by emphasising the participants’ dignity and creative contribution to the experience of learning. The vision of the IPP presupposes that learner and teacher enter into a mutual and reciprocal relationship whereby each searches for the insight of the other and in the service of shared learning.

The unit utilizes this strategy because it specifically offers a model of adult-learning that recognizes, supports, respects and develops the wealth of experience and knowledge that participants bring to this unit. This strategy aims at facilitating participants’ appropriation of unit content in relation to their own learning needs and personal growth. As a result, this strategy generates readiness for personal transformation and meaningful professional impact.

The approximate total amount of time you will spend on this unit is 150 hours. This total includes an intensive, retreat-like experience in which participants are invited to examine and re-examine their relevant professional and personal experience in the context of unit content as presented in lectures, group conversation, workshop activities, guest presentations, and videos. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy of this unit aims to facilitate participants’ incremental and scaffolded appropriation of unit content in relation to their personal and professional experience and learning needs. The assessment tasks enable participants to synthesize and deepen their learning in the unit in view of the unit’s transformative educational philosophy in the Ignatian tradition. The unit utilizes two assessments, each of which scaffolds unit content with respect to participants’ professional contexts and learning needs.

The first assessment asks participants to revisit a broad range of unit content (e.g., readings, lecture notes, workshop conversations) and select the aspects for their learning most significant for their personal and professional growth and in relation to the unit’s learning outcomes (LO1, 2, 3, 4).

The second assessment task both builds on participants’ appropriation of learning in the first and facilitates the participants’ focused application of learning to their professional context (e.g., in a case study) (LO1, 2, 3, 4). Both assessments provide a strong, practical connection between unit learning outcomes and participants’ professional roles in Catholic organisations.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Critical Reflection

For example, integrative response to a journal kept during the unit: Require students to demonstrate understanding and integration of unit content.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA4, GA5


For example, case study on the participant’s own organisation, or annotated interview: Require students to demonstrate ability to analyse professional context and apply unit content to specific, organisational problems.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA10

Representative texts and references

Arbuckle SM, G. Crafting Catholic Identity in Postmodern Australia. Canberra: Catholic Health Australia, 2007.

Hughes, L. “Catholic Sisters and Australian Social Welfare History” Australasian Catholic Record, Vol. 87, No.1, (2010): 30-46.

Kheng, Christina. “The Church and Modern Management: An Unholy Alliance?” Doctrine and Life 66 no. 9 (2016): 37-51.

Lee, B. The Beating of Great Wings: A Worldly Spirituality for Active, Apostolic Communities. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 2004.

Martin SJ, James. Jesus. A Pilgrimage. New York: HarperCollins, 2014.

Power, D. N. Mission, Ministry, Order: Reading the Tradition in the Present Context. London: Continuum, 2008.

Rolheiser, R. The Holy Longining: The Search for a Christian Spirituality. New York: Doubleday, 1999.

Sachs, J. R. The Christian Vision of Humanity: Basic Christian Anthropology. Collegeville, MI: Liturgical Press, 1991.

Senior CP, Donald. The Gift of Administration: New Testament Foundations for the Vocation of Administrative Service. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2016.

Taylor, C. R and R. Dell'Oro, eds. Health and Human Flourishing. Religion, Medicine and Moral Anthropology. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2006.

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