Two academics from St Mary’s University, Twickenham recently took part in the Global Catholic Education Conference in Rome.
Programme Director of the MA in Catholic School Leadership at St Mary’s, Dr John Lydon and Director of the Centre for Research and Development in Catholic Education at St Mary’s, Prof Gerald Grace, presented at the international conference hosted by the American University of Notre Dame‘s Institute for Educational Initiatives and the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies.
The objective of the conference was to address the growing need and interest for research in the under-explored field of international Catholic education and integral human development.
Dr Lydon and Prof Grace were among the leading international group of invited interdisciplinary academics and practitioners across the world, who used their own areas of expertise and contexts to map out the current contemporary landscape of Catholic primary and secondary education across the globe, including looking at trends and funding and identifying gaps and areas of opportunity within existing research.
Dr Lydon led a panel entitled ‘The State of Research on Catholic Education’ which featured Prof Grace and critically examined the research conducted on Catholic education and how it might be advanced.
Prof Grace discussed his experience of publishing his major international handbook and developing a new leading internationally peer-reviewed journal: the International Handbook of Catholic Education and International Journal in Catholic Education and how they have contributed to a research agenda in Catholic education, especially in the United Kingdom.
He cited Dr Lydon’s pioneering 2009 work, Transmission of the Charism: a major challenge for Catholic education, which discusses the subject of religious congregations building the mission of education and focusing on spiritual capital within their communities and membership.
Prof Grace believes the way forward is to begin to build research capacity as soon as possible to meet the challenges posed by secularisation and those who stand in opposition to Catholic education.
Dr Lydon said his research on religious charisms that have been maintained, and have been effective for the Catholic community, would be helpful for the future. He also explained how several students in his St Mary’s Masters programme on Catholic School Leadership were studying these examples during their doctoral studies.
Dr Lydon said of the conference, “It was an honour to be invited to this prestigious conference and I hope it will form part of a larger research initiative to drive the research agenda for the future. This will be achieved by systematic and interdisciplinary research into the global trends and impacts of Catholic education.
“This conference has reinforced the mission of Catholic education to serve the poor and that all children have a right to a Catholic education.”