The University of Divinity promotes the highest standards of scholarship in theology, philosophy and ministry.

 

In keeping with its vision, the University established a Centre for Religion and Social Policy (RASP). Formally launched on Thursday 8 December 2016 in Melbourne CBD,
RASP actively builds collaboration with the churches and agencies..


Aims

The Centre for Religion and Social Policy (RASP):

  • promotes and undertakes research on the interaction between religion and society, and its policy implications

  • encourages public conversation about the implications of religious social thinking, including its socio-economic, environmental, cultural and political aspects

  • adopts an advocacy role about relevant areas of social policy

  • engages in research for peer reviewed journals and monographs

  • draws academic resources within the University of Divinity into closer engagement with current public issues

  • identifies and resources informed spokespeople to engage in public conversation in areas of their expertise

  • develops partnerships among the Colleges of the University of Divinity; the churches, religious organisations and religious orders, their agencies and networks; organisations and individuals who share the Centre’s aims

  • encourages, through collaboration with the Colleges, the teaching of specific units on religion and social policy.

 

Reverend Dr Gordon Preece BA, MA, ThL, BD, PhD

DIRECTOR

Revd Dr Gordon Preece has been appointed Director of the Centre for Religion and Social Policy. An Anglican Priest based in Yarraville, Melbourne, Dr Preece brings an extensive background in leadership and research to the role. His wide-ranging experience has seen him hold positions such as Director of the Centre for Applied Christian Ethics (Ridley College, The University of Melbourne), Executive Director of Urban Seed Melbourne and Director of the Macquarie Christian Studies Institute (MCSI). Currently Dr Preece is Director of Ethos (Evangelical Alliance Centre for Christianity and Society), Chair and Executive of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne Social Responsibilities Committee, member of the Standing Committee and Board Member of the Theology of Work Project, and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Divinity.

Dr Preece is a highly regarded scholar, researcher and lecturer with numerous publications, including eleven books on theology of work and ethics to his name. He is a public commentator in media forums (with Compass, Waleed Aly, John Faine, Jon Cleary, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Herald Sun) and for articles and reviews in journals, including ABC Religion and Ethics Online, Pacifica, Equip, Interface, Theology Today, International Journal of Systematic Theology and Foreign Affairs Journal. Additionally, Dr Preece’s writing has been featured in hundreds of articles in magazines including Alive, Baptist Witness (Victoria), Southern Cross and The Melbourne Anglican (TMA).  He edits the Australasian Religious Press 2013 best publication-winning and peer-reviewed Zadok Perspectives and Papers.

About his appointment, Dr Preece said:

I'm very excited and honoured to be taking on the Director's role for the new University of Divinity (UD) Centre for Religion and Social Policy. The Centre is a key step forward by the University in line with one of its major aims, that of public engagement. I'm looking forward eagerly to working with UD partner institutions and members of our centre in various cross-disciplinary research projects engaging major social policy issues of our time. We aim to make our research timely and of a relatively perennial public nature.

From left: Naomi Wolfe (ACU), Gordon Preece (RASP Director), Mark Brett (Whitley College), Graeme Blackman (Chancellor), Peter Sherlock (Vice-Chancellor) and Gabrielle McMullen (Committee Chair) at the launch of the new Centre for Research in Religion and Social Policy.

From left: Naomi Wolfe (ACU), Gordon Preece (RASP Director), Mark Brett (Whitley College), Graeme Blackman (Chancellor), Peter Sherlock (Vice-Chancellor) and Gabrielle McMullen (Committee Chair) at the launch of the new Centre for Research in Religion and Social Policy.

 
 

Indigenous Issues: Religion and Social Policy

On Thursday 8 December, Dr Graeme Blackman OAM officially launched the Centre for Research in Religion and Social Policy (RASP). The new Centre will provide a means of engaging with the issues of the contemporary world - by stimulating research and engagement activity across the whole institution and by building external partnerships.

The event, held at Collins Street Baptist Church, was attended by over 60 members of the University of Divinity and associated organisations and included a short series of presentations on Indigenous Issues: Religion and Social Policy by Dr Mark Brett (Whitley College), Naomi Wolfe (Australian Catholic University) and Gordon Preece (Director of RASP).

Dr Mark Brett, Professor in Old Testament at Whitley College Theological School, opened his key-note address with an acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the land, the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people, their elders and families past and present. Professor Brett pointed to the significance of the venue fondly recalling attending an event in the church a decade ago when Aunty Marg Gardiner (Wurundjeri) and Aunty Carolyn Briggs (Boon Wurrung) led a dialogue on “Spiritual Pathways to Reconciliation.”

Read the full address here »

 
 
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Update on the Centre for Research in Religion and Social Policy

Provided to the University of Divinity Council on 26 April 2017

The Centre for Research in Religion and Social Policy (RASP) is engaging with contemporary issues through stimulating research and engagement activity across the University of Divinity and by building external partnerships.  

Subsequent to the appointment in October 2016 of an interim Director, Revd Dr Gordon Preece, the position of Director was duly advertised on 4 March 2017.  Applications closed on 31 March with shortlisting to occur prior to Easter and interviews in early May. The substantive appointment commences on 1 July 2017.

The Interim Director and the RASP committee have worked to develop a particular focus and thematic areas for RASP in its initial period. Under the overall focus of Flourishing in a Fragile World, RASP is pursuing projects related to ecology, economics and wellbeing with their context encapsulated in the Appendix.

The RASP committee has developed a process for the appointment of members of the Centre who will support its research, publication and public engagement agendas. To date, the following have been appointed members:

  • Revd Dr Stephen Ames (The University of Melbourne)
  • Revd Dr Stephen Burns (Trinity College Theological School)
  • Dr Jonathan Cornford (Whitley College)
  • Revd Dr Bruce Duncan CSsR (Yarra Theological Union)
  • Dr Anne Elvey (Trinity College Theological School)
  • Dr Scott Kirkland (Trinity College Theological School)
  • Revd Dr Andrew Sloane (Morling College)
  • Mr Barney Zwartz (Centre for Public Christianity)

The Interim Director and members of the Centre have commenced active involvement in a range of research and public engagement activities. Current and potential RASP members and the RASP committee met with the Vice-Chancellor at the Centre for Theology and Ministry on 3 April to foster RASP’s development.
Following the successful forum on Indigenous issues associated with RASP’s launch on 8 December 2016, the Centre has planned a number of seminars for 2017, including:

  • The Legacy of War at 4-6pm on 2 April at Whitley College – the seminar will explore ecological and social justice perspectives on Australia’s involvement in wars with a particular focus on Afghanistan
  • An early evening forum on euthanasia and assisted suicide on 29 June at the Collins Street Baptist Church featuring Professors Peter Singer and Margaret Somerville