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St Mary’s Academic Presents at Catholic School Leaders in a Globalised 21st Century Conference

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Dr John Lydon, Programme Director of the MA in Catholic School Leadership, recently presented at an international conference hosted by Australian Catholic University (ACU) in Melbourne. Evocatively titled Inspiring Leaders in a Globalised 21st Century, the purpose of the conference was to engage with international and national leaders and researchers to discuss and debate the nature, practice and formation of contemporary Catholic school leadership while identifying new global trends. This was to achieve the objective of developing a critical and integrated understanding of school leadership in a globalised world.

The first day of the conference included keynote addresses, panel discussions and a Q & A session with international speakers drawn from the England, Scotland, Ireland, the United States and Australia. Dr Lydon was joined by fellow speakers Professor Gerald Cattaro (Fordham University, New York); Sr M. Paul McCaughey, O.P., (DePaul University, Chicago); Professor Michael Sampson (St John’s University, New York); Dr Gareth Byrne (Dublin City University); Professor Teresa O’Doherty (Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick); Dr Roisin Coll (University of Glasgow); Dr Paul Sharkey (Director of Catholic Education Services, Melbourne); Dr Doug Ashleigh (Catholic Education Office, Brisbane) and Dr Michael Bezzina (Sydney Catholic Schools). Reflections on the first day reveal a critical need for an integrated understanding of global change and the implications for learning and leadership in Catholic contexts.

The second day of the conference began with a Mass at the St Mary of the Cross Chapel on the ACU, Melbourne Campus. It was followed by exciting and innovative discussions concerning a proposed Global Masters in Catholic Leadership aimed at providing a unique experience for students wishing to combine study locally and internationally. Underpinning the Global Masters project is the idea that universities such as St Mary’s University and ACU are part of a global Catholic network of universities (the International Federation of Catholic Universities).

The Global Masters would be aimed at professionals who want to learn and lead as citizens of the world. It is designed to provide leaders in Catholic education settings with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the globalised 21st Century. It would also provide students with an undoubtedly differentiated experience. With an international focus, a global Masters would provide students with opportunities to engage with international issues and develop a global perspective through a Catholic lens, while developing critical thinking skills from their exposure to international experience.

St Mary’s would partner with ACU as it delivers a similar Masters in Catholic School Leadership. International students would not only benefit from a shared curriculum but also an enriching research environment at St Mary’s. Students would be able to be part of the Centre for Research and Development in Catholic Education (CRCDE) where Dr Lydon is Deputy Director. This centre also hosts the international Studies in Catholic Education journal of which Dr Lydon is Associate Editor and where students could potentially publish their research. There is also the possibility of flexible options of summer schools, internships and linking in with ACU’s Rome Study Centre. All of this fits in with St Mary’s University values and strategic plan Vision 2025 which aims to increase international postgraduate student numbers, international university partnership agreements and its profile internationally as London’s Catholic University.

Dr Lydon said ‘participants of the conference were most appreciative of the opportunity to engage and learn more about what is happening with regard to Catholic leadership and Catholic schools internationally and identifying commonalities. Therefore, the conference was very enriching indeed from comparative research and practice perspectives’. In addition, he added that ‘committed discussions around a global masters are not only critical to meeting the needs of the Catholic education sector, but such a degree pathway would provide St Mary’s University with the flexibility and responsiveness to an increasingly competitive global postgraduate market. This degree is designed to meet the need of ethical leadership to be applied in ever complex international environments and mobile transitional communities’.

Pictured from left to right:

Professor Br. David Hall, Dean LaSalle Academy for Faith Formation and Religious Education (ACU); Professor Geraldine Castleton, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Education and Arts (ACU); Dr Roisin Coll (Head of St Andrew’s Foundation, University of Glasgow); Sr. Mary Paul McCaughey OP, (De Paul University Chicago); Dr John Lydon (St Mary’s University London); Professor Gerald Cattaro (Fordham University, New York); Professor Michael Sampson (St John’s University, New York); Professor Teresa O’Doherty (Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick); Dr Gareth Byrne (Dublin City University); Professor Christopher Branson (Professor of Education Leadership, ACU) and Professor Peta Goldburg, Faculty of Education and Arts (ACU).

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