Australian Catholic University has named Jesuit Professor Frank Brennan to a new Canberra based public policy think tank to be launched later this year.
The Canberra Times quotes new ACU vice chancellor, Professor Greg Craven, as saying the ACU Watson campus, which has 800 students, would be the site of the yet to be named centre.
The university also plans to expand its nursing, social work, child protection and education courses, and will establish the university's largest faculty of theology at the Watson campus.
Professor Craven, who took over at ACU four months ago, said it was time Australia's national Catholic university engaged in public policy debate at the highest level.
''Universities have to engage in policy; a fundamental role is to provide good advice on policy and to influence policy with quality research,'' he said.
Theology would be just one policy area with the think tank to ''run the gamut of Catholic social thought'' including social justice issues concerning the marginalised and disadvantaged, and Christian life, Professor Craven said.
"The Catholic university intellectual tradition is the oldest university intellectual tradition, it goes back 900 years.
"We would be looking to make quality inputs to policy makers on Catholic perspectives, but also to decision makers around the Catholic Church on areas like health care and Catholic education."
Father Brennan, who is a Jesuit priest and a professor of law at the ACU's North Sydney campus, is the first appointment to the new think-tank.
"Father Brennan is the foremost Australian Catholic intellectual, and he is respected on all sides of politics and throughout the Church, and I expect him to make a major contribution," Professor Craven said.
Professor Craven said he hoped other local intellectuals would take part in the institute.
Priest to drive think-tank (Canberra Times, 3/6/08)
The Idea of an Australian Catholic University (Professor Greg Craven)