Teaching organisationThis 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 and online learning. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.
Unit rationale, description and aim
Christ calls all Christians to be one, and the Creed declares that the Church is "one," yet Christians are far from united. Christian disunity is both a reality and a key challenge of our time. Vatican II calls Christian disunity a scandal that impedes the Church's mission and witness to the world. Christian churches today, including the Catholic Church, consider the quest for unity to be an imperative. In light of today's ecumenical context and its impact on churches, schools, and other Christian organisations, it is important to have an appreciation for the importance of ecumenism and to understand its theological and ecclesial underpinings. This unit explores the modern ecumenical movement, examining its biblical and theological basis, aims and goals, landmark documents, key successes, contemporary challenges, issues, and methods. This is done with reference to the Catholic Church's principles of ecumenism. The aim of the unit is to enable students to analyse theological perspectives, methods, and issues regarding the contemporary ecumenical movement and apply a critical understanding to its relevance for Christian faith and practice both today and into the future.
On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:
LO1 - Explain the biblical and theological basis of ecumenism, the Catholic Church’s principles of ecumenism, and the contemporary significance of ecumenism (GA4);
LO2 - Analyse the historical impact of the modern ecumenical movement on Christian churches, with reference to key ecumenical statements and documents, especially those in which the Catholic Church has been an ecumenical partner (GA4, GA8);
LO3 - Evaluate the relevance and challenge of ecumenism now and into the future, including contemporary ecumenical issues and methods (GA8, GA9).
GA4 - think critically and reflectively
GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information
GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media
Topics will include:
- The biblical and theological basis of ecumenism;
- History of the ecumenical movement and landmark ecumenical steps;
- Theological dialogue, achievements and methods;
- Catholic approaches to ecumenism, with special focus on Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism and John Paul II’s encyclical, Ut Unum Sint;
- Ecumenism in practice in local and international contexts;
- Ecumenical prospects for the future, especially Receptive Ecumenism.
Learning and teaching strategy and rationale
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 and online learning. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.
The unit is normally offered in attendance mode or multi-mode. Students learn through formally structured and sequenced learning activities that support the achievement of the learning outcomes. Students are guided in developing high level skills in critical thinking, reflection, analysis, evaluation, and academic writing. Learning activities are structured according to the constructivist developmental sequence, beginning with explaining and defining the ecumenical movement, then shifting to focus on analysing the modern ecumenical movement and its documents, and finally focusing on evaluating the current state of the ecumenical movement and its future. Learning is designed to be an engaging and supportive student-centred experience, and student participation is essential.
Assessment strategy and rationale
In order to pass this unit, students are required to attempt all assessment tasks and achieve an overall grade of Pass (50% or higher).
The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for students to demonstrate their achievement of each learning outcome. The three assessment tasks align with the constructivist sequence outlined in the learning outcomes and the teaching and learning strategy, which moves in sequence from explanation, to analysis, to evaluation.
Assessment task 1 enables students to display achievement of LO 1 by asking them to write an article for an audience of their choice explaining what ecumenism actually is and why it matters. This is a foundational activity, aimed at enabling students to display their grasp of the key topics of the unit. It forms a platform for Assessment tasks 2 and 3.
Assessment task 2 aims to extend students’ comprehension further, shifting from explanation into analysis. It asks them to research and write an essay analysing the historical impact of the ecumenical movement on one or two key aspects of the life of a church/s or Christian organisation or group of their choice. This task is designed to help students display sound comprehension of the impact ecumenical efforts have had so far in shaping modern Christianity. It aligns with LO 2.
Assessment task 3 enables students to display achievement of LO 3. The focus of this task is on evaluation. Students are asked to evaluate the current state of the ecumenical movement, including key contemporary issues and challenges, and how they may be approached by employing new ecumenical methods, especially Receptive Ecumenism. This final task focuses on the meaning and relevance, as well as challenges and issues, of ecumenism today and into the future.
Overview of assessments
|Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment Tasks||Weighting||Learning Outcomes||Graduate Attributes|
Require students to write an article for a specific audience explaining what ecumenism is, including its theological and biblical basis, aim and goals, and relevance.
Require students to research and write an essay analysing the historical impact of the ecumenical movement on one or two key aspects of the life of a church/s or Christian group with reference to ecumenical statements or documents
Require students to evaluate the quest for Christian unity now and into the future, including contemporary ecumenical issues and methods, with a focus on Receptive Ecumenism.
Representative texts and references
ARCIC III. Walking Together on the Way: Learning to Be the Church – Local, Regional, Universal. (2018). Available from the Vatican Website.
John Paul II. Ut Unum Sint: On Commitment to Ecumenism (1995). Encyclical letter. Available from the Vatican website.
Kasper, Walter. Harvesting the Fruits: Aspects of Christian Faith in Ecumenical Dialogue. London: Continuum, 2009.
Kinnamon, Michael. Can a Renewal Movement Be Renewed? Questions for the Future of Ecumenism. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2014.
Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church. Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. (1999). Available from the Vatican Website.
McPartlan, Paul and Geoffrey Wainwright, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Ecumenical Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2017.
Murray, Paul D., ed. Receptive Ecumenism and the Call to Catholic Learning Exploring a Way for Contemporary Ecumenism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Nelson, R. David, and Charles Raith. Ecumenism: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2017.
Vatican II. “Unitatis Redintegratio: Decree on Ecumenism.” (1964). Available from the Vatican Website.