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