The head of Australia’s only liberal arts college has thrown support behind the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation’s bid to establish new university degrees in the discipline. Source: The Australian.
Paul Morrissey, president of Sydney’s Campion College, said he wasn’t surprised by the backlash to the proposed Bachelor of Western Civilisation at the Australian National University, but there was nothing inherently controversial about the study of Western civilisation.
“I wouldn’t see it as a threat and I wouldn’t have thought it was radical,” Dr Morrissey said. “Unfortunately, it is seen as controversial because humanities faculties across universities have succumbed to this idea of identity politics; that it’s OK to study all these different identities, except our own. We see it as essential to our freedom. That’s why we call it the ‘liberal arts’; it’s about liberating the mind, not closing it, which, unfortunately, is where many university humanities departments are at.”
Established 12 years ago and aligned with the Church, Campion College’s liberal arts degree is a broad study of Western civilisation, focusing on history, literature, theology, philosophy, science, Latin and maths.
Dr Morrissey said there was a misconception such courses did not look critically at Western civilisation, which was, by no means, “universally good”. But it was important to “understand where we’ve come from”.
The National Tertiary Education Union and the Australian National University Student Association have intervened over the proposed degree, for which as many as 40 students would be offered scholarships in the first two years.
The NTEU and the ANUSA have raised concerns about the level of control the Ramsay Centre could wield over the course, claiming the deal threatened to compromise academic freedom and independence at the university. The Ramsay Centre and the ANU have defended the negotiations, which are continuing.
Liberal politicians yesterday supported the Ramsay Centre, which was established last year with proceeds from the estate of healthcare billionaire Paul Ramsay and is chaired by former prime minister John Howard.
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