Credit points


Campus offering

Find out more about study modes.

Unit offerings may be subject to minimum enrolment numbers.

Please select your preferred campus.

  • Term Mode
  • Professional Term 8Online Scheduled


THCT504 Catholic Ethos and Care of the Person AND PHIL506 Ethics in a Faith-Based Context AND THCP518 Catholic Social Thought in Practice


THEL627 Special Study in Canon Law

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 need to understand deeply the distinctive missions of their organisations and embody that understanding in their approach to leadership.

This unit explores theological models for leadership and analyses the impact of a specifically Catholic identity and mission on leadership approaches, values and decision-making. Applying their learning from the previous three units, participants examine contemporary challenges for leadership in Catholic organisations and reflect purposefully on their own skills and styles as leaders.

As the capstone unit in the Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Catholic Culture, this unit aims to equip participants with models they can use to synthesize and implement their learning. It aims to return them to their workplaces with a renewed passion for their organisation’s mission and the critical skills to enact positive change.

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.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome Description
LO1Analyse and assess the historical, demographic, political, economic and ecclesial influences shaping their Catholic organisations
LO2Identify and evaluate the mission-critical issues within their own agencies
LO3Critically reflect on leadership styles and decision-making in Catholic organisations with reference to challenges arising in their current practice
LO4Demonstrate the integration of learning from the whole course to address problems in their own professional contexts


Topics will include:

  • Contemporary contexts for leadership and understandings of mission in Catholic organisations
  • The role of organizational mission in the dynamics of cultural change
  • Models of leadership
  • Scriptural and theological interpretations of the complex integration of leadership, mission, ethics, and decision-making

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 Outcomes

Critical Reflection

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



LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4


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

Representative texts and references

Arbuckle, G. A. Catholic Identity or Identities? Re-founding Ministries in Chaotic Times.

Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2013.

 Dorr, D.. Spirituality of Leadership: Inspiration, Empowerment, Intuition and Discernment. Blackrock, Co. Dublin: Columba Press, 2006.

Johnson, Craig. Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow. Sage: Los Angeles, 2012.

Lowney, C. Everyone Leads: How to Revitalize the Catholic Church. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2017.

Lucas, B. “Mission and Identity of Faith-Based Organisations: The Role of the Bishops.” The Australasian Catholic Record 84, no. 1 (2007): 45-55.

Morgan, Julie. “Mission, Governance, and Executive Leadership.” In The Francis Effect: Living the Joy

of the Gospel. Edited by Danielle Achikian, Peter Gates and Lana Turvey. Catholic Mission: Sydney, 2013.

Ormerod, N. “Identity and Mission in Catholic Organisations.” The Australasian Catholic Record 87, no. 4 (2010): 430-439.

Sullivan, S. Mission Discernment: A Resource for Decision-Making in the Catholic Tradition. Canberra: Catholic Health Australia, 2012.

Stebbins, J. Michael. “Leadership, Discernment, and the Elusiveness of Understanding.” In Business

as a Calling: Interdisciplinary Essays on the Meaning of Business from the Catholic Social Tradition, ed. Michael Naughton and Stephanie Rumpza, 2004.

Tate, William. “Leadership and Culture.” In The Search for Leadership: An Organisational Perspective. Trarchy: Devon, 2009.

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs