Keynote 1 – Universities and Disagreeing Well

Dr Michael Spence

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

University of Sydney

We all know how to hold in respect those whose opinions we admire, or whose worldviews we share. But what does it mean to respect those with whom we are in profound dispute, those whose values and choice are antithetical to our own? In short, what does it mean to ‘disagree well’? And what is the role of the university in not merely contributing knowledge, but in promoting a higher tenor of debate in our society?
Universities in the secular liberal tradition have a responsibility to encourage the spirit of inquiry and the freedom of thought that is our expectation and our right in Western democracies. The University community is encouraged to question respectfully, to disagree well, but also to challenge assumptions and test both themselves and the ideas that they, and others, assume to be true. It is critical that this spirit of curiosity, inquiry and debate is not stifled within an institution by the allure of adopting a collective position or view. In ‘disagreeing well’ universities, and ideally society more broadly, acquire the capacity not only to live with disagreement, but to see that well-handled debates are more likely to help us to distinguish the true from the false. We should not be afraid of asking difficult questions, or pursuing our best understanding of truth, wherever that may lead. And it is our duty to promote these values and use our knowledge for the public good.
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Keynote 2 – Deep Gratitude: What does it look like in Teaching, Learning and Leadership and how can it give us deep peace?

Dr Kerry Howells

Senior Lecturer, Education College of Arts, Law and Education

University of Tasmania

This presentation will postulate the need for deep gratitude in the context of education, going beyond the therapeutic or a notion of wellbeing to a more powerfully transformative sense of this giant of a term. It will discuss some case studies of challenges posed about the relevance of gratitude to difficulties faced in schools. We will explore practical strategies that can be applied to complex challenges such as being time-poor or facing the negativity or cynicism of others. We will also investigate the educational imperative of a focus on gratitude and how some of the outcomes reported in the case studies offer hope for deep peace for students, teachers and leaders.

Keynote 3 – Understanding The Social Determinants of Education Success for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students In Australian Boarding Schools

Dr Marnie O’Bryan

Honorary Research Fellow

University of Melbourne

The role of boarding schools in helping to overcome education disadvantage for First Australian young people has received increasing attention, and funding, from government, the media, and private sector investors in recent years. Notwithstanding this trend, there has been little independent research into the factors that underpin education engagement and success for First Australian students in predominantly non- Indigenous schools. Educators are not well placed to understand how Indigenous students experience ‘mainstream’ boarding school and what impact their experience has on later life outcomes for them, their families and communities.

This presentation emerges from Dr O’Bryan’s PhD study into the lived experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Australian boarding schools. It will consider the social and cultural conditions which young people and their parents identified as respectively enabling or constraining their education endeavours, and the implications of these for Australian schools.

Click here for the full presentation.

Keynote 4 – Is Christianity A Force For Peace In The World?

Mr John Dickson

Founding Director

Centre for Christianity

There is a fast-growing belief in Western society that the world would be better off without religion – including Christianity. The church is increasingly regarded as a burden, a spoiler, and even a poisonous influence on society. John will analyse the “mixed bag” of Christian history and practice, realistically evaluating both its dark side – such as the Crusades and the Inquisitions – but also its beautiful side, such as its contributions to human rights, the origins of charity, and the beginnings of education, universities and hospitals. Listeners will see that when the church does terrible things, it is departing from its master, Christ. But when it is doing beautiful things, it is doing exactly what Jesus said to do.

Keynote 5 – Forming Students Who Can Love And Disagree

Ms Natasha Moore

Research Fellow

Centre for Public Christianity

Tolerance is a core concern for millennials. Yet student culture around the world, in tandem with its passion for justice and equality, displays a growing intolerance of disagreement. What responsibility do educators have to convey to students the beauty an importance of freedom of speech? What resources does Christian faith bring to bear on the problem of disagreeing well? And how can we cultivate habits of peace and loving disagreement in others if we’re stuck in our own echo chambers?

Chaplains’ Networking Program

Thursday 9 AUGUST 2018

Hand Drawn by Paul Joy

Click here for an illustrated record of the discussions held at the Chaplains’ Networking Day.