CHC Researcher boosts international profile

Karenne Hills, from CHC’s School of Social Sciences, continues to build an international profile in the area of disability theology research.

In August, Karenne spoke at The International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSIDD) World Congress, which attracted 1,600 delegates from around the world, and is one of the most prestigious conferences internationally in this discipline. Presenter numbers are strictly limited and thus acceptance to speak is competitive and a great achievement in itself. Karenne presented “Spirituality in the context of non-verbal autism”, based on her PhD research.

The following week Karenne spoke at the Exclusion and Embrace conference. This is a multi-faith Australasian conference which focuses on the growing interest in faith and spirituality in the lives of people with disability. Karenne was a steering member of the conference committee and as such has been working hard for the past two years in the planning and success of the three days of the conference.

Her presentation “Towards a model of inclusive practice in Christian higher educational institutions: A prototype program” described a program currently in operation in the CHC School of Social Sciences. The program is an innovative, individualised educational support program designed to assist students with a disability to succeed at tertiary study. The program began in 2014 and to date has realized success far exceeding the school’s expectations. It has also attracted international interest from other educational institutions, disability organisations, and leading disability scholars.

Karenne was also invited to participate in a panel discussion on day three of the program alongside Dr Samuel Kabue, (Executive Secretary of the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network), Dr Bill Gaventa (Director of the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability and Director of the Collaborative on Faith and Disability), and fellow Australians Andy Calder and Louise Gosbell. The panel discussed ideas and innovations for the inclusion of disability focused courses along with programs for people with disabilities in seminary and theological college curricula.

As a result of her presentations, CHC has been showcased to a large number of people representing a variety of organisations and Higher Educational Institutions from across the globe. During both conferences she also had the advantage of networking and consolidating scholarly linkages with leading international disability scholars.