Charles Sturt University
PACT - Public and Contextual Theology

Welcome to PACT

Our mission

The Centre for Public and Contextual Theology (PACT) is focused on public and contextually informed theological research and engagement with issues of national and global significance. PACT has a history of collaborative research by scholars of many religious traditions and a commitment to future inclusion and expansion.

Parliament House Canberra

A founding member of the Global Network for Public Theology, PACT is committed to becoming the lead centre in the Asia-Pacific region for research at the interface of theology and public issues. The rich intellectual traditions of diverse faiths, along with their abiding focus on questions of human value, are interwoven in our Research Streams with discourses on ethnicity, politics, gender, economics, ecology, and much more.

Situated in the national capital, PACT aims to contribute to the public good, in Australia and beyond, through research, scholarly publications and public engagement.

Strategic research areas  2017 to 2021

PACT scholars are involved in a variety of research fields. Among them, three key areas of research activity have been identified for 2017-2021.

Christian-Muslim Relations in Australia

Given Australia's changing religious demographics, the close interaction between people of different faiths in the major cities and now also in regional Australia, and the significant attention paid to religious radicalisation by government, police and the media, this area of research is highly relevant.

PACT's close relationship with the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation (CISAC) means that CSU is one of the few universities in Australia able to draw Christian and Muslim theologians together under the auspices of one Centre to produce collaborative research output.

Areas of research activity include:

  • the history of relations between Christians and Muslims
  • religious instruction in schools
  • Islamophobia
  • religious radicalisation and refugee policy.

Religious Social Service Agencies

The social service agencies of religious institutions receive substantial government funding. These agencies are already a large sector of the social service economy in Australia and are expanding with the implementation of the NDIS. They represent the most significant public connection between religion and government in Australian society.

Research is tailored toward assessing the impact of public expenditure in the social service economy via religious institutions and toward the interests of churches and religious agencies by assessing the theory and practice of their social service activities.


Religion, Ethics and the Anthropocene

Effective action on climate change calls for religious as well as political leadership. A reconsideration of how economists, ethicists and particularly the religions have conceived of humanity's relationship to the planet is critical.

PACT has developed the Religion, Ethics and the Anthropocene project, drawing together:

  • theologians
  • ethicists
  • scientists
  • and public policy experts.

The principal participants are committed to a thorough reconsideration of the legacy of their respective disciplines and traditions, and to fresh theology, philosophy and ethics to help us understand what it means to be human in the potentially devastating Anthropocene Epoch.

Latest News

Religion and the state in the Peoples Republic of China

14 May 2018

Religion and the state in the Peoples Republic of China

By PACT Fellow Dr Bernard Doherty.While discussions of undue Chinese influence in Australian politics, President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption, and Chinese territorial expansion in the South China Sea have all featured heavily in recent Australian discussions on China, the topic of the Chinese state’s attitude toward religion has received far-less coverage – especially its treatment of religious minorities.While many Christians are at least vaguely aware of the often restrictive.

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Muslim and Christian scholars come together at Peace Conference

14 May 2018

Muslim and Christian scholars come together at Peace Conference

United Theological College (UTC) hosted an inter-faith Peace Conference in March which was supported by the Public and Contextual Theology Research Centre (PACT).The event was organised by UTC lecturer Dr Anthony Rees who is also a Research Fellow with PACT.He said the event brought together Islamic and Christian academics who used “sacred texts as a site to discuss the understanding and communications of religion through texts”.A story about the event.

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Audio from Hope and Peace Event with David Neville

08 May 2018

Audio from Hope and Peace Event with David Neville

Associate Professor David Neville, who is head of Charles Sturt University's School of Theology, spoke at the recent Christians for an Ethical Society Forum on Hope and Peace on the 24th April 2018.His lecture was recorded and can be downloaded to listen to here.David Neville’s recently published examination of Gospel passages which appear to challenge the notion that the message and mission of Jesus was inherently peaceful is a timely.

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PACT scholar published in Fin Review

03 Apr 2018

PACT scholar published in Fin Review

Public and Contextual Theology Research Centre Scholar Rev'd Canon Scott Cowdell was recently published in The Australian Financial Review about the Australian Cricket ball-tampering scandal. His piece, 'Cricket cheats treat on the sacred' was published on the 28th March and is republished below. Cricket cheats tread on the sacredForget Holy Week and Easter, because what counts as truly sacred has been revealed in Cape Town.Cricket officials have intoned a sober.

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Reformed Theology and Ethics Today – Clive Pearson

13 Mar 2018

 Reformed Theology and Ethics Today – Clive Pearson

Reformed Theology and Ethics Today – Clive Pearson Imagining A Way, edited by PACT Research Fellow Clive Pearson, is an acclaimed collection of essays, from globally credentialed contributors, exploring practical theology and ethics within the Reformed tradition today. Discover more here..

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