Theology in the public square of Australian higher education

Daniel Fleming, Terence Lovat, Brian Douglas

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In the Australian context, tertiary theological education has historically been the domain of particular religious denominations, being applied principally to students within the denomination in question and delivered largely through colleges explicitly oriented towards training for religious ministry within the same denomination. As such, the introduction of the discipline of theology into the mainstream of a number of public and secular Australian universities marks a significant shift in this educational landscape. This article argues that theology's move from the denominational and confessional context to the public square of a secular university carries with it a need to reassess the discipline's educational assumptions. Not only is the majority student base not from within a particular denomination or looking to ministry training, but a significant number of students are typically not belonging to any faith and, in many cases, not interested in doing so. Theology in the public square must therefore be assumed to be primarily a discipline among other disciplines. Like other disciplines, it must therefore be available principally for the public good, and assessed for its worth by related criteria. These criteria impel a revision of the theological and pedagogical assumptions of the discipline when delivered in this context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-42
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Adult Theological Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


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