24TH CONFERENCE OF THE ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST AND EAST ASIAN CATHOLIC COLLEGES AND UNVIERSITIES (ASEACU) CONFERENCE 23-
“The gathering of the ASEACU has a special significance to the Catholic higher education institutions in this region as it brings together a region growing in numbers of the student population, our challenge is to keep our institutions meeting these modern trends yet understanding, keeping and living their Catholic identity” With the expression of these opening remarks Prof. Herminio Dagohoy OP. the President of the ASEACU from the University of Santo Tomas, Philippines opened the 24th Annual conference of the ASEACU. Rev. Dr. Barnabe D’Souza. Sdb representing the FIUC , mentioned the importance of the regional associations within the context of the global catholic higher education instiutions framework.
The Opening ceremony was vibrant with 69 institutions of higher education that participated with a total of nearly 100 professors and Rectors and 62 student representatives from these institutions. The Notre Dame, Australia University’s call to their Broome Campus was a unique setting and very apt to the theme of the conference ‘Valuing Indigenous Cultures and Traditions in the Care of our Common Home’ Right from the Vice Chancellor of Notre Dame University, Australia, Prof. Celia Hammonds stating of the context, the local aboriginals challenges in education and the commitment of Notre Dame, Australia to the local indigenous populations progress in skills and academics to two keynote address from Mr. Peter Yu a Yawuru native’s tracing the history of the local aboriginals heritage and Rev. Prof. Dennis Edwards (Australian Catholic University –ACU) setting the tone to Pope Francis’s Theology of the land in ‘Laudato si’ made for an interesting and dynamic platform for discussions on Ethics of Ecology, Ecological Education, a well presented Petition for online change.org in perspective of Laudato si and several other topics dealt with by various speakers enlivened the meeting. There were several parallel breakout sessions on Research collaboration, Itnernational Collaboration, Online education in Catholic Universities and vibrant Rectors forum for the ASEACU strategic planning.
The ASEACU has a unique element in involving the students that begin with the conference earlier and join in with the staff delegates on a few sessions, this year 62 student representatives took active part where they had several training and input sessions, made group presentations and had fruitful exchanges and discussions on the theme of the conference.
Given the setting of Broome, Prof. Peta Sanderson the chief coordinator of the conference said, “We had to mobilize many of our staff, professors and students from our campuses in Sydney and Fremantle, each one put in a lot of effort in the organizing, logistics and several details that went beyond their roles to make it possible to host this conference in Broome’ The idea of relating the theme to the hosting of the conference in that given local situation shed a realistic light on the challenges and issues shared by Indigenous populations in preserving their cultures and traditions as custodians of our common home.
The Assembly of the ASEACU met with regard to their future actions and decided to hold the next, 25th ASEACU conference in Assumption University, Bangkok at the end of August, 2017.