CALL FOR PAPERS | Neoliberalism, Civil Society & The Church

A two day conference to be held at United Theological College
Thursday 28 and Friday 29 June 2018

United Theological College invites scholars and practitioners are invited to offer a paper/ workshop that explores the way neoliberalism is shaping current civil society.  In particular neoliberalism is influencing welfare policy and service delivery.  All this effects the way the church, with its understanding of justice, engages with governments and civil society. You are invited to address the topic from the perspective of politics, theology, welfare policy development or service delivery.

A significant amount of time will be given to the presentation of papers/ workshops.  Papers/workshops are welcomed.
Please send your 250 word abstract to Chris Budden ( by 5pm Friday 25 May, 2018.
You will be informed by Friday 1 June whether your paper has been accepted for presentation.
Papers will be allowed 30 minutes for presentation, followed by 15 -20 minutes for discussion.  Presenters may be invited to provide their paper for publication in Uniting Church Studies.

For some years the assumption in Australia was that the role of governments and civil society (the institutions that mediate between individuals and the state) was to expand the social, economic and political rights of citizens. People were seen as having social and economic ends. The church acted in this space as one body in civil society defending and expanding those rights in cooperation with governments.
Neoliberalism argues that capital must have complete freedom, and other rights may have to be given up. People are primarily valued for their contribution to the economy – producers and consumers. Civil society serves the agenda of governments, whose priority is economic growth and freedom for capital. The state justifies its existence as a source of security, not expanded rights for citizens.
This shift to neoliberalism is well illustrated in Free Trade Agreements which can make it possible for companies to sue governments who seek to protect social well-being – e.g. if they stop mining for environmental or social reasons, or wish to protect water as a common good.

How does the church respond to this situation? Is it still working in the ways of social liberalism? How does the church deal with the new understanding of human-ness, the state, and the nature of freedom?
This conference will explore these and other issues around neoliberalism, civil society and the church through various disciplines and approaches.

Dr Elizabeth Strakosch is a lecturer in Public Policy and Governance at the University of Queensland, and her research focuses on the intersection of policy and political relationships. It explores the ways that new public policies and administration techniques transform our social relationships and political identities in liberal and settler colonial contexts. Her recent book Neoliberal Indigenous Policy explores contemporary Australian Indigenous policy as influenced by neoliberalism, New Public Management, exceptionalism and preventative risk management.
University of Queensland Professional BIO – available here

The conference is supported by the Public and Contextual Theology Research Centre at Charles Sturt University, Uniting (NSW/ACT), and United Theological College.

2 day UTC Conference | Neoliberalism, Civil Society & The Church
Thursday 27 & Friday 28 June, 2018
Venue: United Theological College, 16 Masons Drive North Parramatta
Parking: Free, on site parking, both days
Registration enquiries: Currently via

2 Day Option – $50pp | Registration link Two Days, inc Thursday dinner
Thursday only option -$35pp | Registration link THURSDAY, inc dinner
Friday only option – $35 | Registration link FRIDAY – $35pp

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