The beginning of the 2012 academic year heralds a new era in the partnership between The Broken Bay Institute (BBI) and The University of Newcastle, with Theology faculty from the two institutions teaming up for the first time to teach together on campus, as well as online.
It is the first time that a Catholic theological education provider has been part of a team teaching face-to-face on the campus of an Australian secular university.
The move is the latest step in the gradually evolving partnership between BBI and The University of Newcastle in the delivery of theology. Integration between the staff of the two institutions has been growing since the partnership began in 2010. In the core courses of the degrees, where numbers justify it, the same cross-institutional teams will lecture at the University and tutor online, with students in both modes following exactly the same course of study and interacting with each other through online discussion boards.
Director of The Broken Bay Institute, Dr Gerard Goldman said BBI faculty are partnering with University of Newcastle faculty to deliver both undergraduate and post graduate theology courses in this way.
“It’s very exciting for us at BBI, because we’re at the forefront of something new in the way that theology is being taught in Australian universities,” Dr Goldman said. “And what is especially exciting with this venture is that it also builds on BBI’s strength as the largest provider of distance theological education in Australia. The plan is to have all the core theology courses available in both face-to-face on campus and online modes of delivery.”
Professor Terry Lovat, Head of Theology at The University of Newcastle and Academic Dean at BBI, said the full integration of BBI teaching into the University’s program was a major milestone.
“Having BBI and University teams teaching the same courses both on-campus and online strengthens the profile of both institutions and also the profile of theology,” Professor Lovat said. “It brings greater resources to the university in terms of teaching staff and so provides greater access to theology for the university’s undergraduate and postgraduate audiences.”
Apart from those students who enrol in theology diplomas or degrees, the new arrangement means that theology courses will be available to almost any student at the University whose course allows them to take electives. There are more than 460 student enrolments in theology for Semester 1, with more than 100 anticipated to be studying on campus in 2012.
Twenty-six year old Ken Baldwin of Hamilton in Newcastle attended the orientation session at the University and said he was looking forward to attending lectures on campus.“It’s great that they are online as well, but I personally prefer to go to lectures, I get more out of it. But it’s really good to have both options. I’ve studied Philosophy already and that got me interested in Theology. Now, I just really want to do Theology,” he said.