Chris has over 30 years of teaching experience. This started soon after he graduated from high school in 1986. He signed up for university but had trouble ‘getting’ what tertiary education was all about. He dropped out and in 1988 joined the Australian retail giant Coles-Myer. Soon, he was running one of their stores and a little later the organisation elevated him to ‘training manager.’ This gave Chris the chance to master the company’s corporate training processes and had him travelling to other stores instructing staff in the details of customer care, shop layout, how to increase sales and plan sales campaigns.
Four years later, Chris had made it back to the University of Sydney studying in the humanities, eventually majoring in Studies in Religion and Performance Studies. Because of a key staff absence during his honours year, Chris had his first experience of lecturing before even finishing his undergraduate degree, giving a series of lectures on Chinese religions. That was 1996. He started doctoral work and paid his way through his studies with additional teaching gigs. During this time, he was most proud of his work at the Centre for Continuing Education, taking members of the public by coach on day-long study tours of the multicultural communities across Sydney. These proved immensely successful. Chris also had wonderful opportunities teaching theatre history at Wesley College (now Excelsia College), running units in the History Department at the University of New South Wales, and lecturing at the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh.
In 2009 he was appointed as a full-time lecturer in Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney. Here he has been responsible for creating and recreating the department’s curricula keeping it relevant and fresh. He has worked with his colleagues to implement a wide range of teaching innovations that help make Sydney one of the top 50 universities in the world.
During this time, Chris wrote the Cambridge University Press textbook for high school Studies of Religion in New South Wales – this became an award-winning and highly successful aid for students studying religion for their Higher School Certificate.
Passionate about teaching and learning, Chris was a long-term member of the teaching and learning committee of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Sydney. And, when colleagues elected him to the university’s Academic Board, he served for four years on the university’s Academic Quality Committee – which is responsible for reviewing the teaching effectiveness courses and ensuring the university meets and exceeds government education standards.
During this time Chris also became well-known as a public speaker and lecturer at a wide-range of cultural institutions across Sydney. He has delivered lectures and courses for the Festival of Sydney, Casula Powerhouse Museum, The Australian Museum, The Australian Maritime Museum, Newcastle Art Gallery, The Museum of Contemporary Art, and tours for Sydney Living Museums. It is his work for the Art Gallery of New South Wales, however, that has been the most impactful. Since 2013, Chris has organised courses on a wide range of topics including art and civilization, the history of cinema, Islamic art, art and revolutions, and the history of human consciousness. These incredibly successful courses raise substantial funds for new acquisitions for the gallery and entertain and delight gallery regulars. Through the gallery, Chris has also led a number of multi-week study tours overseas including to Morocco and Spain, Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Chris delights in the way education can transform a life – whether the learning experience is for a degree or for fun. He is proud to be a founder of Way of the Scholar and hopes to use this dynamic platform to keep doing what he loves – using education to challenge and change.