Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

School Research News

Faculty of Arts and Education Research Café

The School of Humanities and Social Science, on behalf of the Faculty of Arts and Education Research and Graduate Studies, recently hosted a Research Café - ‘Fellowship Reflections’ where  FoAE Research Fellowship holders Karen Bell, Tamara Cumming, Sharynne McLeod, Dominic O’Sullivan and Peter Simons discussed the research opportunities their fellowships provided. Each of these distinguished scholars shared their experiences of fellowships and the outcomes and achievements they enabled. All of these talks were inspiring and motivating and focused on successes as well as challenges and learning opportunities. Common themes across all of the talks included the real world impact arising from the fellowship research projects, the importance of collaboration and the invaluable support provided by Faculty Research Officers.

The full recording of the Research Café can be accessed here

Women in Trades

The Women in Trades research project has made a substantial contribution to faculty research over 2018 -2020. This multi-disciplinary, cross Faculty team has had an exceptional number of outputs balanced across industry, media and the academy. The study, in only 2.5 years, has been responsible for 5 industry events (140 participants across the events), significant industry stakeholder collaboration, over 30 media engagements – including television & high profile radio (ABC Life Matters and ABC 702), an impactful industry report, 3 journal articles (4 additional submitted for review), 12 conference presentations, 6 internal grants with external grant applications in preparation.

Please access our report @

Senior Lecturer, Dr Donna Bridges, also recently appeared on ‘Sunrise’:

Visiting Scholar, Brenda Morris

Members from the School of Humanities and Social Science hosted the esteemed scholar Brenda Morris in a highly successful public lecture, attracting over 60 participants from universities in Australia and the mental health sector. Educators at Charles Sturt University and around the world are supporting students who are reporting that their mental health challenges are impacting their ability to meet their course requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wednesday, 15th July 2020, visiting scholar Brenda Morris from Carleton University Social Work School in Canada and who is one of the primary researchers in the International Network of Co-operative Inquirers, presented about 'Responding to student mental health challenges during COVID-19'. Brenda included in her lecture and workshop the importance of educators sensitively navigating multiple accountabilities including attending to students' needs, privacy, and rights; the need to address discrimination; the obligation to meet the specificities of the program requirements and educational institutional policies; and upholding the mandates of professional bodies. A team from the school of Humanities and Social Science, coordinated by Monica Short, supported the event. Professor Wendy Bowles, Professor Manohar Pawar, and Associate Professor Karen Bell acknowledged Country and warmly welcomed Brenda and everyone to CSU and the lecture. The event included short presentations by CSU School of Humanities and Social Science staff. Dr Merrilyn Crichton spoke about the significance of the topic, Dr Emma Rush interviewed Brenda, Monica Short introduced the International Network of Co-operative Inquirers, Dr Fredrik Velander both fielded radio interviews and formally responded to Brenda's lecture, Rohena Duncombe chaired the Q&A section, Associate Professor Susan Mlcek made final comments, Dr Donna Bridges organised promotions and media and provided general support, Benjamin Iffland delivered IT services and Sarah Boothey designed the invitation. A sub-group of the team is drafting a journal article with the same title. The evaluations received regarding the event are very positive. Thanks to everyone who attended for making the event a success. Thanks to the outstanding team who orchestrated this timely discussion about student retention and progression. Thanks to the social work research meeting and the School of Humanities and Social Science Research Committee for hosting. Here is the link to the recording of the event:

Social Sciences Week - September 2020

Social Sciences week wrapped up in early September with a bang! Thank you to all of our amazing staff who contributed. Some of the highlights can be found below:

Christianity, Disability and Indigeneity: What do these mean for person-directed practice, policy and politics?

The Chaplain of Embracing ministries asked us to run a public lecture. Embracing Ministries is part of the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, and it supports the spiritual growth and discipleship of people with disabilities and their families. For more information, please see their webpage

This successful 2.5-hour event began with two half-hour lectures.

The first lecture was by Dominic O'Sullivan titled: ‘‘‘I have come in order that you may have life – life and all its fullness' (John 10: 10): Faith, indigeneity and human rights."’

The second lecture was by Monica Short titled: Person-directedness: Empowering people who are Christians and are receiving services.

Two panels followed the lectures:

1. The first panel focused on the lived experience of Indigenous Christianity. Panel members: Christian leader within the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship of Australia Kathie Naden, Arabana woman of South Australia and Community Engagement Officer Aboriginal Christian leader; Dominic O’SullivanBrooke Prentis, Wakka Wakka woman and CEO of Common Grace; and CSU Associate Professor.

2. The second panel focused on the lived experience of being a Christian and living with a disability. Panel members: Janet McKinney, Chair of Embracing Ministries Committee; Jenny Wright, IRPH Radio Newsreader; and clergy spouse, Karen King, Anglican Church and public servant. All three-panel members identify as living with disabilities.

Partners for the event were: Embracing Ministries, Anglicare NSW South, NSW West & ACT, IRPH radio, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Common Grace.

Webinar: Visions 2020 – Social science in our daily lives

This webinar included four very different presentations: Playground design to include children with disabilities; Multi-cultural palliative care; Bushfire communities and volunteers; and Rural homelessness. The overarching themes were the way social science is present in our everyday lives and the importance of inclusion.

Dr Merrilyn Crichton also featured in the podcast 'Social isolation and mental health in Rural Australia – What’s Sociology Got to Do with it'? Episode 10 featuring Merrilyn can be found here:

Social isolation has been known as a cause of mental illness for most of sociological history. Described initially as a deviant behaviour caused by disconnection from social norms and groups (anomie), it is sometimes used as an exclusionary practice and mechanism of social control. In rural and remote Australia, social isolation has become a part of culture and social life as a result of geographical distance. Underlying isolation are global systemic, political, and institutional policy and practice, but is also a result of out-migration and to some degree socialised protective mechanisms for people. During the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation has become a part of our ordinary lives. My research about rural wellbeing and social inequality often leads to social isolation and social exclusion, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put it at the front of our common social experience and therefore a hot topic at the moment (apparently). The podcast was not intended to be just about social isolation, but about the nature of health and wellbeing inequalities in rural Australia. It turns out, I talked a lot about social isolation with Sarina Kilham (the CSU sociologist who put the whole lot of podcasts together) during our chat that produced the podcast. It is, currently the focus of my research (other than some other things I’m tidying up for publication of course – who isn’t looking forward while also looking back at what is not yet complete in their research life?).

Zooming into Residential School (ZiRS)

The Zooming into Residential School Cooperative Inquiry research group (ZiRS) delivered 2 webinars one bespoke for Stirling University Scotland and the other for Social Science Week (SSW) in Australia. In total we have had over thirty people hear at least one of our presentations.

We presented the essential pedagogical features for successfully delivering clinical skills online education and training in higher education professional human services and allied health courses. We drew on two examples of online courses for clinical casework and group work. These were delivered online for the first time in 2020, using innovative practices, due to COVID-19 restrictions in Australia.

Three main themes for delivery emerged: responsiveness, collaboration, and dynamic interaction between staff and students.

Online clinical skills training now offers universities and professions the opportunity to address social justice access and equity issues that prevent students from attending campus-based clinical skills training. The role and importance of collaboration with many educators including learning technology specialists who are educators on teams were highlighted.

The presentation can be viewed at:

Stirling University Presentation 2020:

Social Science week 2020:

We encourage all staff to share these links with colleagues and students in our discipline and in any allied health or welfare courses or organisations.

The team members who were active presenters and participants in the presentations were:

Monica Short, Lachlan Kalache, Susan Mlcek, Fredrik Velander, Bernadette Moorhead, Katrina Gersbach, Ndungi wa Mungai, Wil Dobud, Manohar Pawar and Lynelle Osburn.

One of the highlights of the Stirling University presentation was that Lena Dominelli was in the audience and has said some positive things.


Some quotes from the SSW presentation are:

  • Started with doubts, thought it would be overwhelming, the students were outstanding. [Monica Short ]
  • Having a plan for learning technology design, staff training and delivery was good, having the support during the event itself to overcome those 1st time challenges which cropped up was essential. [Lachlan Kalache]
  • Every time we come together; we learn something all the time. For example, synchronistic teaching. [Susan Mlcek ]
  • The mutual support given by the academic staff and facilitators and for example monitoring the chat. Spontaneous attention to what needed to be done attendance and support. [Ndungi wa Mungai]
  • Rethink how we build rapport online and there is no research and literature – puppy on the lap. In the big lecture room Zoom we are closer together. [Katrina Gersbach]
  • How fun it is to work together and the importance of kindness. [Fredrik Velander]
  • Didn’t know many people in the team. We had a lot of meetings and got to know more of the colleagues – being able to work together. New to online residential schools – monitoring the chatbox. There were more questions in the chat than we would have got in a lecture hall. Got great engagement. Pre-recorded the role plays, they can be stopped and analysed, provided real-time practising skills. [Will Dobud]
  • The work continues and we are not done, but reflecting back. Learning can also occur when there is a pressure – we think/ know learning is best achieved in a warm and comfortable learning environment. There was a pressure to perform and deliver. Our students are mature age and they have self-responsibility for online learning. They need to have self-motivation – they were highly motivated, and the technology allows us to see what has been read, by whom and for how much time. We can see the students were engaging. On campus residential school is not the only way to go. This is another model – it is not “the model”. It has been a positive online experience and it brought colleagues together. [Manohar Pawar]

The whole ZiRS team are:

Monica Short, Bernadette Moorhead, Katrina Gersbach, Wil Dobud, Rohena Duncombe, Kylie Falciani, Laura Gerstenberg, Lachlan Kalache, Georgie Lomas, Susan Mlcek, Aaron Morison, Ndungi wa Mungai, Jeanette Ninnis, Lynelle Osburn, Manohar Pawar, and Fredrik Velander, and Elizabeth Wulf.