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Spotlight on a Global Partner - Australian Catholic University

​​​​​Most of the work we do at DePaul to offer students a broad portfolio of international experiential learning leverages our global partners. These are Universities, institutions of higher education, organizations, and companies that have embraced internationalization as part of their core values.  The most successful partnerships are those who support a broad spectrum of activities, from student physical mobility through bilateral exchanges and study abroad opportunities, to virtual collaborations through Global Learning Experience (GLE), to jointly organized conferences and reciprocal visits of faculty and staff. Among these solid relationships there is our alliance with the Australian Catholic University (ACU). This spotlight article was written in collaboration with Kirk Doyle, ACU’s Associate Director, International Relations and Partnerships.

With just over 35,000 students and 7 campuses across Australia, ACU is one of the largest Catholic universities in the world. Like DePaul, ACU is a comprehensive university with a diverse student body. Internationalization is a core value for ACU: It hosts almost 5000 international students, and around 1000 of its own students study abroad each year. DePaul University and ACU have enjoyed a highly active partnership since 2015, which has seen the two universities exchange more than 70 students and has led to the collaborative development of GLEs in Business and Intercultural Studies.

DePaul students who spent time at ACU are enthusiastic about their experience and the opportunity for personal and professional growth. Maya Mic, a student who is spending  Academic Year 2020-21 at ACU says:“During the first few months of my year-long study abroad experience in Melbourne, Australia, I had suffered a personal loss back home. My instructors were incredibly understanding and took time out of their days to grab a coffee with me and discuss how they could help me succeed in the midst of this hardship. Along with this, not only were my Semester in Australia friends beyond responsive and made sure I had everything I needed, but the amount of Australian students in my classes that reached out to me offering their support was overwhelming and beyond moving.”


 In Fall 2019, we were also delighted to host thirteen senior faculty and leaders from ACU, for an intense 2-day visit as part of ACU’s international Study Tour, during which our ACU colleagues learned a great deal of how DePaul supports faculty in various areas of teaching and learning, students success, and retention.

Community engagement is at the core of both institutions and strong connections have grown between the DePaul’s Steans Center and the ACU Engagement team.  The two groups hosted an international community engagement conference at ACU’s Melbourne campus in 2019, which saw 15 DePaul staff travel to Melbourne, as presenters, panellists and participants. Staff from both sides of the Pacific came away eager to ensure this was more than a one-off event. Howard Rosing, Director of DePAul’s Steans Center, observed: “"The conference highlighted how ACU and DePaul share a common mission of educating our students to become social change agents and that we have a lot to benefit from sharing approaches to community engagement and service learning.  Both institutions see the importance of critically analyzing how they engage with communities and, most importantly, how students, faculty and staff can improve practice, thus having a greater impact on teaching, learning and society." Jaclyn Jensen, Associate Professor in the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship and Director of the MS in Human Resources, who participated in the conference, said: ”Participating in the conference was so rewarding to connect with colleagues who are working to inspire change in their communities, and connect classroom learning to real world application. It also reminded me of the global connections we share with colleagues who are leveraging our community-based assets to enhance student learning and engagement. We have much to learn from each other, and much to share.”

Given all of these connections, it was natural for us to reach out to ACU, among other partners,  when the pandemic hit and we first conceived the idea of offering students around the world opportunities for a safe and brave space to share their experiences. “When our good friends at DePaul’s Office of Global Engagement approached ACU about their Global Conversations initiative, it was a project that immediately resonated. Within days, faculty from a range of ACU disciplines signed on as co-facilitators and within weeks dozens of our students eagerly registered for the various conversations sessions. Remarkably, a few even joined Global Conversations held at 2am Australian time – such was their level of interest!”, says Doyle. Allison Hughes, one of the faculty members at ACU who joined us to facilitate some of the Global Conversations observed: “My DePaul colleagues were highly respectful of everyone’s knowledge and experience and went out of their way to ensure international colleagues were actively involved in all stages of planning and delivering the sessions,” while David Barnett, another ACU faculty member involved in the initiative remarked: ” The Global Conversations project was a brilliant experience! We had several students comment, in-session, that they thoroughly enjoyed the session and were very grateful to DePaul and ACU for hosting.”

Ultimately, what started as an initiative to address a specific temporary situation may well become an ongoing part of the ACU-DePaul learning abroad partnership. We’re hoping students will see their participation in a Global Conversation as their first step into a broader international learning program. Ideally, they might go on to join a GLE with some of the same faculty and students they have met online this year. They may then take a short-term study abroad program or even enroll in a semester abroad.

We value our partnership with ACU greatly, and look forward to continuing and expanding our collaboration with our Australian friends. If you are interested in exploring possibilities for collaborations with colleagues at ACU, please contact us at