Three areas will be central to PACT research activity from 2017-2021. The PACT Strategic Research Committee will particularly welcome and support scholars who are research active in these areas, and the Centre's seminar and lecture programs will be focused on these fields.
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 ensures we are one of very few research centres able to draw Christian and Muslim theologians together for collaborative research.
Building on that rare potential, PACT is developing projects on interreligious relations and social cohesion in Australia by focusing, for example, on the history of relations between:
The social service activities of the Salvation Army, Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Church, and now also Muslim social service agencies, receive substantial government funding. These agencies are a large sector of the social service economy in Australia. They represent a significant public connection between religion and government in Australian society. PACT seeks to be a hub for research and consultancy with the aged care, family support and allied health agencies of the churches and religious institutions.
Research is being tailored, for example, toward the interests of government by 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, and providing theological resources. PACT is actively seeks the participation of service sector partners.
Effective action on climate change requires government leadership resourced by quality scientific research and social policy. It also calls for religious and moral 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 Planetary Futures Project to be undertaken with support from the CSU Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, the CEO of the Commonwealth Government Climate Change Authority, and eminent scientists and religious scholars.
The principal participants in the project are committed to a thorough review of the legacy of their respective disciplines and traditions. Their hope is that by addressing the ethical, moral and religious issues surrounding the climate change debate, as a common cause through interdisciplinary collaboration, the Planetary Futures Project will contribute academic and moral weight to the public debate.