Keeping up with a Changing World

Written by: Professor Elizabeth Crawford Spencer | JCU | July 31, 2018

Who isn’t in love with what’s new? But what about the ‘tried-and-true?’ When it comes to education, what’s new is that information is everywhere, free for the taking, but we need to ask what sort of information, what kind of knowledge is it? From what source? How shall it be applied? 

As Professor of Law at James Cook University I currently have the good fortune to serve as Acting Dean of the College of Business Law and Governance. My predecessor, in his seven years at JCU, gave generously of his time and effort and achieved a great deal to enhance programs, and to encourage academics and students to achieve their best. As I take on this role I look forward to continuing David Low’s good work and to following his excellent example. At the same time important work remains to be done to ensure that the direction we set now is the right one to serve our students and the community. As educators we are curators of knowledge and information and experience. In the age of information this is an increasingly important function.

Business and law are disciplines that play a key role in the University and in the community. Both are essential to reach our shared goals to create a better world, and they go hand-in-hand in providing the substrate and frameworks for best practice in human enterprise. JCU courses in law and business impart the skills and knowledge to equip future leaders, to instill norms of ethical behaviour, and to lead graduates to good jobs. We also inspire students to create jobs for themselves and others as they realise their own aspirations in technology, environmental protection, creating social enterprise and more.

Rigor and relevance are watchwords as our experienced academics guide students to understand how to interpret information in making decisions. In the process of learning to make a business case, get across business and legal risks, understand regulatory frameworks, manage and protect intellectual property, understand a balance sheet, or create a marketing program, students are encouraged to integrate broad perspectives to reveal hidden strategic, economic, competitive, human, and political complexities to reach sound decisions. 

We are also all about connections. Both business and law are professions that call upon the work of many other academic disciplines and require engagement with the outside world. We offer internships, work experience and special group projects so our students can spend time in the field grappling with real problems and gaining insight into complex social and human interactions. Our Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program connects with nearly 300 businesses in the region, enhancing graduate employability and winning awards for innovative learning and teaching.


“…students are encouraged to integrate broad perspectives to reveal hidden strategic, economic, competitive, human, and political complexities to reach sound decisions.”


We are preparing students for future jobs that we haven’t yet imagined. A JCU education in law and/or business provides training and discipline to prepare dynamic future leaders for a changing world. Our small class sizes and face to face interaction are supplemented by new ways of delivery to suit student needs such as blended or flipped-classroom teaching, online course resources, and self-directed study to extend student learning. 

JCU’s new MBA Global starting in October 2018 will be structured around building business acumen from a global point of view, developing advanced analytical and strategic decision-making skills, and enhancing organisational leadership and management capabilities. 

Our practical approach in legal education is highly regarded in the legal sector across Queensland and affords JCU law students opportunities to work with legal professionals, industry and the not-for-profit sector on real world problems. Students benefit from hands on involvement with contemporary issues, the latest legal research and new ideas across the practice and application of law. Early next year we will be running a weekend ‘Leĝathon’ where students will engage with tech experts and professional, industry and community leaders in finding solutions to real issues.

 These are challenging times and exciting ones. At JCU we provide leadership to our students and to the community in embracing what’s new and combining it with what we know of the ‘tried and true’ that is valuable and important. University education isn’t just about being job ready, it’s about being ready for life. That’s a constant process, brand-new for each of us every day. Our doors are open to the community to join with us. We look forward to working and learning together.

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