The Yarra Institute for Religion and Social Policy (YIRSP) is an independent ecumenical organisation located within the Melbourne College of Divinity (now the MCD University of Divinity). Its purposes are twofold. It has been established firstly in order to conduct research into the implications of Christian social thinking for the formulation of public policy in Australia. Its second purpose lies in teaching Christian social thinking and its implications for public policy in Australia. YIRSP’s educational role flows from, complements and supports its research function.
The educational role of YIRSP is aimed at the building and re-building of civil society, with a view to Australia becoming more just, loving and participatory. The role involves creating and disseminating knowledge as well as advancing a level of analysis and critique consistent with its purpose. It presumes the necessity for a level of competence and commitment in regard to the social traditions of the various churches within the broader Christian Church, including the scriptural and theological underpinnings of those traditions.
Both the research and educational functions of YIRSP acknowledge the importance of the Christian Church’s engaging in the major public debates about social policy. Such engagement is not marginal to the Church’s life but is a mainstream expression of its mission to embed the Good News in all strata of humanity and in all levels of the cultures. The work of YIRSP will at times be most appropriately carried out in collaboration with those of other faith traditions.
In pursuit of its educational role YIRSP will
- Establish partnerships with tertiary organisations and other interested institutions
- Promote the range of courses available within MCDUD to support its educational aims through these partnerships
- Encourage and supervise doctoral studies and where possible support students in the course of such studies
- In collaboration with partners, develop a program which aims to assist targeted groups actively to participate as Christians in the debates shaping public policy in a range of sectors (mission in the public square).
As progress is made in advancing this agenda, the policy settings may need to be adjusted to take note of
- The challenges encountered internally in advancing them
- The views of partners
- The reality of the YIRSP budget
- The need to develop an implementation strategy.
With the above factors in mind the educational policy of YIRSP will be evaluated in 2013 with a view to
- Assessing implementation challenges
- Assessing the effectiveness of partnerships established
- Seeking new partners for the period 2013-2015
- Reviewing, and where necessary reframing, the policy objectives for the period 2013-201.