Future of the Professions Research Group

Organisation profile

Organisation profile

The Future of the Professions research group has cross-faculty membership from three current research groups in the Faculty of Arts and Education - the Practical and Public Ethics Research Group, the Environmental & Social Justice Research Group, and the Libraries Research Group. The Future of the Professions research group brings together leading research already conducted in these three groups to create a new interdisciplinary focus.


Professions and the bodies that represent them were once, in effect, guilds serving to protect the interests of members who provided a well-specified set of services to society. In recent decades society has placed new demands on professions. It now expects professions to abide by societally endorsed codes of ethics, ensure that members do not discriminate against any clients, and ensure that professional services are provided to all requiring them. For the most part the professions have adapted to meet these societal demands. New and emerging challenges will require many of the professions to change much further. These emerging challenges include:


The global COVID-19 pandemic and potential future pandemics. Pandemic diseases raise considerations around the responsibilities that professions have to protect societal health and wellbeing, which can conflict with traditionally understood responsibilities towards clients.

An aging population. As the population ages there are less people of working age providing professional services to more people of non-working age. This demographic shift places new demands on professionals.

An information age. The rapid rise of the internet has created unprecedented opportunities to improve professional practices by improving their evidence base but brings with it dangers of reliance on low quality information. The replacement of physical spaces with online ones also has major consequences for the relationships between professionals and clients.

Conscience and the rising demand for religious freedom. A recognised right to conscientiously refuse to provide services used to be restricted to the healthcare professions. Other professionals, including social workers in the US, are now demanding a right to conscientiously refuse to perform professional duties, placing their consciences ahead of obligations to clients, and states are accommodating some of these demands.

How should professions adapt to meet these and other emerging challenges? The Future of the Professions Research Group will approach this topic in two related ways. Philosophical analysis will be used to address overarching questions about the future to which the professions ought to aspire, while social scientific research will examine ways in which two particular professions, social work and librarianship, may be able to adapt to meet new and emerging challenges. Charles Sturt is a leading educator for both these professions and thus particularly well-placed to explore the implications of their challenges and to disseminate and implement the results of this exploration. The two approaches will inform one another.


The Future of the Professions group:


• Provides an interdisciplinary focus for high-quality academic research.

• Has significant potential to generate grant income and builds on areas of ERA strength while also building capacity in an area in which there is potential for ERA improvement, through strategic interdisciplinary research.

• Aligns with CSU as the University for the Professions as well as with its ‘For the Public Good’ and ethos of ‘Yindyamarra Winhanganha’.

• Covers several key Fields of Research - Society and Culture (09), 4409 Social Work, 4410 Sociology and 5001 Applied Ethics, and Information Technology (02) - 4610 Library and Information Studies.

• Aligns with current Australian Government higher education policy, which emphasises practical outcomes as exemplified by the Job-ready Graduates Package.

• Connects strongly to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which provides an effective framework for the demonstration of research impact and community engagement, directly supporting the University’s future standings in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.


Overarching research questions include:

What are professional obligations? How do these change over time?

In what ways can community engagement and curriculum co-creation enhance education for the professions?

What are the major challenges facing library and information science education for professional practice in a changing world?

Does the reality of the global pandemic impose new moral responsibilities on professionals? If so, what are these new responsibilities?

How is contemporary social work practice conceptualised in the context of disaster preparedness?

What moral responsibilities do we have to elderly people?

How can e-health education build capacity for professional practice in end-of-life care?

How will local services such as public libraries facilitate social connection in the post-COVID world?

How can public libraries extend their services through inter-professional collaboration with social work?

How can concerns for the religious freedom and conscience of individual professionals be reconciled with the obligations of professionals towards their clients?

How should librarians deal with misinformation and disinformation?


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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