News & Events

18 November 2019

Ramsay Centre and The University of Queensland sign Philanthropic Agreement

STATEMENT FROM CEO PROFESSOR SIMON HAINES

 Sydney, Monday 18 November 2019: As part of a philanthropic gift to the Humanities in Australia, the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation has signed an agreement with the University of Queensland (UQ) to fund a new Western Civilisation study program and related scholarships, beginning in 2020.

This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with UQ in August this year.

Worth upwards of $50 million over 8 years, the Philanthropic Agreement will enable UQ to offer at least 150 undergraduate scholarships and hire world-class educators to teach its program.

From next year students will be able to study Western Civilisation in either UQ’s Bachelor of Advanced Humanities (Honours) degree, or in its Bachelor of Humanities/Bachelor of Laws (Honours) dual degree.

The study program will be led by internationally-acclaimed classicist Professor Alastair Blanshard and promises to immerse students in “…a creative and diverse curriculum with a strong focus on key intellectual works – artistic, musical, literary – that have shaped western civilisation from antiquity to the current day.”

Scholarships will be awarded to academic high achievers who desire to make a difference. UQ is seeking applications from school leavers who are creative and intellectually curious, with the critical skills necessary to challenge the status quo and cross boundaries, and who value discussion, debate and the opportunity to learn from others.

This is the second university partnership for the Centre, following its partnership with the University of Wollongong. Together with UQ we are excited about the wonderful opportunity for both students and teachers in the Humanities that this partnership presents.

The partnership is made possible through the extraordinary generosity of the late Paul Ramsay AO, founder of Ramsay Health Care.

Students interested in learning more about Western Civilisation study at UQ and the UQ Ramsay Undergraduate Scholarship can find more information at https://scholarships.uq.edu.au/scholarship/uq-ramsay-undergraduate-scholarship-western-civilisation#qt-scholarship_tabs-foundation-tabs-1

Media contact: Sarah Switzer 0407 816 098/ sarah.switzer@ramsaycentre.org

 For more information on the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation please visit our website: www.ramsaycentre.org

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7 November 2019

SHAKESPEARE: Q&A with CEO Professor Simon Haines

On 19 November the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation will host John Bell AO OBE, actor, theatre director and founder of Bell Shakespeare, in conversation with our CEO Professor Simon Haines.
While many Australians owe their first experience of Shakespeare on the stage to John Bell, Professor Haines has also introduced generations of students to the works of Shakespeare through his distinguished academic career.
In preparation for their dialogue, Professor Haines answers questions on what Shakespeare means to him.

  •  What was the first Shakespeare you read or saw? A Macbeth production at age 9 in my boys’ boarding school, the three witches were school prefects aged 13 and the cauldron boil and bubble scene with lots of shrieks and cackles was a big hit; and Julius Caesar in third year, we thought “Friends Romans and countrymen lend me your ears” was a hilarious line.
  • Which is your favourite Shakespeare play and why? Antony and Cleopatra because it’s such a grown-up play with such huge historical and emotional scope; and Comedy of Errors because you just can’t stop laughing.
  • Which Shakespeare play would you recommend people read or watch first? Macbeth is hard to beat in terms of gripping atmosphere.
  • Which Shakespeare have you found to be the most popular with young people? Why do you think that is the case? Romeo and Juliet probably. It’s obviously so easy for young people to identify with. Plus Macbeth (see above) and Othello, powerful male-female relationships and plenty of death and fight scenes.
  • Which Shakespeare play do you think is under-rated? Troilus and Cressida. People are often uneasy with it as neither quite comic nor tragic – but its often bitter take on sexuality and politics is extraordinary.
  • Why do Shakespeare’s plays deserve ‘great book’ status? There is no other gallery of lives created out of language quite like this one. Only Greek epic and tragedy, and a truly great novelist such as Tolstoy, can compare in terms of emotional range and depth.
  • Favourite Shakespeare performances? John Bell’s Hamlet in I think 1974! My daughter Catherine as Cleopatra in Oxford in 2011; my son Will as Timon at the Bondi Pavilion in 2008.
  • Favourite Shakespeare quotes? Impossible question. Some random ones: Antony being a bit vain as he talks about getting older: “Though grey do something mingle with our younger brown”. Cleopatra: “Oh, my oblivion is a very Antony, and I am all forgotten”. Prospero’s “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep”. Hamlet: “the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought”. Richard II: “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me”……

Simon Haines is the editor of Shakespeare and Value, recently published in Routledge’s authoritative Shakespeare International Yearbook series. The volume contains one essay each by six major international Shakespearean scholars in addition to Simon’s two: the title essay, and a second contribution, on Measure for Measure, called “The Life of Pi”. Simon has also recently published a chapter on “Recognition in Shakespeare and Hegel” in Palgrave’s Shakespeare and Emotions, discussing Othello, King Lear and Antony and Cleopatra.

He has given many talks and addresses on Shakespeare including “Unhappy Consciousness in the Merchant of Venice at the prestigious annual Kingston Shakespeare Seminar at Garrick’s Temple; and “Shakespeare and Ideology” at the Lowy Institute. For seven years Simon ran the highly successful Chinese Universities Shakespeare Festival in Hong Kong, with up to fifty mainland and Hong Kong competing teams and twelve finalists each year. He has taught Shakespeare in universities for eighteen years.

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7 November 2019

SHAKESPEARE: John Bell AO OBE in conversation with Professor Simon Haines

 What was your first experience of a Shakespeare play? A struggle in a school classroom? An inspiring teacher? A revelation at a theatre?

 For many living Australians, their first experience of Shakespeare on stage would have been thanks to John Bell AO OBE, actor, theatre director, founder of Bell Shakespeare, and guest of the Ramsay Centre for our eighth and final Ramsay Lecture for 2019.

 John Bell will be interviewed on 19 November by Ramsay Centre CEO Professor Simon Haines, who has introduced many students to Shakespeare through his university teaching career.

 “It is a great privilege for the Centre to host John Bell,” Professor Haines said. “Shakespeare’s works are given ‘great books’ status because there is no other gallery of lives created out of language quite like this one. And no one has done more to ensure Australians have exposure to that richness of experience than John Bell.”

 John Bell founded The Bell Shakespeare Company in 1990 where he served as Director until 2015. His productions include more than 15 of Shakespeare’s greatest works, which have been played to almost 2.5 million Australians. He is one of the nation’s most illustrious theatre personalities, an award-winning actor, acclaimed director, “torch-bearing educationalist and speaker on leadership.” He has an honorary doctorate of Letters from the University of Sydney, New South Wales and Newcastle; and is one of Australia’s official ‘living treasures’.

 Professor Simon Haines is the editor of Shakespeare and Value, recently published in Routledge’s authoritative Shakespeare International Yearbook series. He has published a number of articles and given many talks and addresses on Shakespeare. For seven years he ran the Chinese Universities Shakespeare Festival in Hong Kong, with up to fifty teams competing from mainland China and Hong Kong. He has taught Shakespeare in universities for many years.

 The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation was created with an endowment from the late Paul Ramsay AO, founder of Ramsay Health Care, to promote a deeper understanding of western civilisation. The Ramsay Lecture series hosts speakers from all walks of life who have important and interesting perspectives relating to the world and our western heritage.

Printed versions of the lectures and video podcasts are available via the ‘News and Events’ section of our website: www.ramsaycentre.org

Media contact: Sarah Switzer 0407 816 098.

Please note the John Bell event is fully subscribed.

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8 August 2019

Ramsay Centre and The University of Queensland sign Memorandum of Understanding

STATEMENT FROM CEO PROFESSOR SIMON HAINES


Sydney, Thursday 08 August 2019
: As part of a philanthropic gift to the Humanities in Australia, the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation today announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with The University of Queensland (UQ), to fund a new program in Western Civilisation, and related scholarships.

Worth upwards of $50 million over 8 years, the partnership deal includes funding for at least 150 undergraduate scholarships, and the hiring of world-class educators. The Western Civilisation program will commence in 2020.

This is the second university partnership for the Centre, following its partnership with the University of Wollongong.

We are delighted to be partnering with UQ, which is ranked in the world’s top 50 universities and is one of Australia’s leading research and teaching institutions.

The University has a strong focus on the student experience and supporting students to become ‘agile, innovative thinkers and leading global citizens.’

Most importantly, we have always said that the success of the courses we fund would depend on the quality of teaching, and UQ has received more national teaching awards than any Australian university.

The program’s curriculum has been developed under the leadership of the Executive Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Heather Zwicker and internationally-acclaimed classicist Professor Alastair Blanshard.

The University will offer a new major in Western Civilisation that students can either take as part of its advanced humanities honours program, or in a new double degree consisting of a new Bachelor of Humanities coupled with an Honours degree in Law.

Students will graduate with either a Bachelor of Advanced Humanities (Honours) (Western Civilisation) or a Bachelor of Humanities (Western Civilisation)/Bachelor of Laws (Honours).

The MOU will be published by UQ and clearly articulates the joint commitment of the Ramsay Centre and the University to academic freedom.

Together with UQ, we are excited about the wonderful opportunity for both students and teachers in the Humanities that this partnership presents.

 

Media contact: Sarah Switzer 0407 816 098/ sarah.switzer@ramsaycentre.org

For more information on the centre please visit our website: www.ramsaycentre.org

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6 August 2019

Ramsay Centre and University of Wollongong sign funding agreement

STATEMENT FROM CEO PROFESSOR SIMON HAINES

Sydney, Tuesday 06 August 2019: As part of a philanthropic gift to the Humanities in Australia, the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation has signed an agreement with the University of Wollongong (UOW) to fund a new BA degree in Western Civilisation, beginning in 2020, and a related scholarship program.

This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the University in December last year.

Worth approximately $50 million over 8 years, the partnership deal will enable UOW to offer at least 150 undergraduate scholarships and hire world-class educators to teach its Western Civilisation program. UOW’s BA in Western Civilisation will be directed by Professor Daniel Hutto who is a gifted and passionate educator.

Billed as a course for the ‘intellectually fearless’, UOW is promising students a transformative BA in Western Civilisation degree that will take them on a ‘unique philosophical adventure’, engaging with ‘some of the greatest intellectual and artistic masterpieces ever produced.’

It will comprise 16 newly created subjects, with students having the option of studying for a single degree, with a choice of major, or a range of double degrees. The degree is funded to enable students to study the great texts of western civilisation in small groups.

The funding agreement contains a joint commitment from UOW and the Ramsay Centre to academic freedom.

The partnership is made possible through the extraordinary generosity of the late Paul Ramsay AO, founder of Ramsay Health Care.

Students interested in learning more about the degree and the Ramsay Scholarship program at UOW can find more information on the UOW website – https://www.uow.edu.au/law-humanities-the-arts/schools-entities/liberal-arts/ . Scholarship applications are open for the month of August.

Media contact: Sarah Switzer 0407 816 098/ sarah.switzer@ramsaycentre.org

For more information on the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation please visit our website: https://www.ramsaycentre.org

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23 July 2019

The Coddling of the American Mind: New York Times best-selling author to deliver Ramsay Lecture

Sydney, Tuesday 23 July 2019:  Are we coddling our youth presuming they are fragile rather than robust people who can benefit from challenging experiences? Are we continuing to over-protect students at university, leaving them unprepared for life’s rough and tumble? Should we be disturbed by the growing trend on US campuses of controversial speakers being de-platformed and classic texts being banished on the grounds that they are too confronting?

These are just some of the many issues explored in the New York Times best-seller The Coddling of the American Mind: how good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure.

To deliver more insight into how over-protection may cause future generations harm, as well as how we can remedy bad-practices to create ‘wiser kids’, ‘wiser universities’ and ‘wiser societies’, co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind Jonathan Haidt will deliver the fifth Ramsay lecture for 2019.

Professor Haidt is Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Named one of the “top global thinkers” by Foreign Policy magazine and one of the “world’s top thinkers” by Prospect magazine, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences this year. His research examines the intuitive foundations of morality, and how morality varies across cultures, with the aim of helping people understand and learn from each other. He has co-founded a variety of organizations that apply moral and social psychology to that end, including HeterodoxAcademy.org, OpenMindPlatform.org, and CivilPolitics.org.

Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation CEO Professor Simon Haines said Professor Haidt’s lecture was timely, following the report on free speech at Australian universities by former High Court chief justice Robert French. He praised Haidt’s emphasis on students seeking truth through critical thinking and engagement, rather than seeking refuge in comfortable majority positions.

“We should be careful not to stray into territory where students feel safer to adopt ‘group-think’, rather than be challenged to develop conclusions based on meaningful and respectful challenge from their peers and from people with different views,” Professor Haines said.

Professor Haines commended Professor Haidt’s establishment of the Heterodox Academy, a non-partisan global collaborative of more than 2,500 professors, administrators and graduate students committed to “promoting open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement in institutions of higher learning.”

Professor Haidt is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, and of The New York Times bestsellers The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, and The Coddling of the American Mind (co-authored with Greg Lukianoff). His next book is tentatively titled Three Stories about Capitalism: The Moral Psychology of Economic Life.

Media contact: Sarah Switzer 0407 816 098

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18 June 2019

The Rise and Whys of Grievance Studies

‘Grievance Studies affair’ hoaxer Helen Pluckrose to deliver the fourth Ramsay Lecture for 2019

Sydney, Tuesday 18 June: To test their theory that some fields in the humanities have become over-run by a ‘victim mentality’ that overrides genuine scholarship, a UK-based magazine editor and two US academics submitted 20 deliberately absurd, unevidenced papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Seven papers were accepted and seven more were “actively considered” for publication before their ruse ended late last year, following suspicion from the Wall Street Journal. The trio gained international notoriety. Their hoax became known as the ‘Grievance Studies affair.’

Tonight, one of the ‘hoaxers’ and editor of Areo magazine Helen Pluckrose will deliver the fourth Ramsay Lecture for 2019, outlining the threat she believes ‘grievance studies’ pose to real academic progress in fields that should continue the work of the US civil rights movement.

“Studying social justice issues around race, gender and sexuality is important but this cannot be achieved by shoddy scholarship and inconsistent ethics and that is what we are seeing in these fields right now,” Ms. Pluckrose says.

“Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant. Increasingly we are shifting away from a society where everyone is free to argue anything, so long as they use evidence and reason, to one where identity and experience determines who speaks. This has major ramifications for scholarship and activism which will help inform the next generation.”

The most famous of the Grievance Studies affair hoax papers was the fake ‘dog park study’ which suggested that dog parks are petri dishes for canine rape culture after examining ‘dog humping’ in hundreds of dog parks. The study was titled “Human reactions to rape culture and queer performativity at urban dog parks in Portland, Oregon,” and received praise as having the potential to make “…an important contribution to feminist animal geography”.

Another hoax paper suggested white and male university students should sit on the floor in chains, as a form of “experiential reparation”, and listen and learn in silence. The paper was rejected but the author was encouraged to resubmit and received applause for identifying ‘specific approaches’ to redress epistemic injustice in the classroom.

Helen Pluckrose is the editor-in-chief of Areo, a digital magazine focusing on humanism, reason, science, culture and art. She has research interests in late medieval and early modern women’s religious writing, receiving her bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of East London and her Master’s in Early Modern Studies 1300-1700 from Queen Mary University London. Last month she was announced as a finalist for the UK Contrarian Prize, along with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, to be presented by broadcaster Jeremy Paxman on June 25.

The Ramsay Lecture series hosts speakers from all walks of life who have important and interesting perspectives relating to the world and our western heritage. Printed versions of the lectures and video recordings are available on our website: www.ramsaycentre.org

Media contact: Sarah Switzer 0407 816 098

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10 April 2019

Best-selling author and journalist Greg Sheridan to speak at the Ramsay Centre

Sydney, Tuesday 09 April 2019: Can Western Civilisation be sustained without belief? How much do we owe to our Christian tradition, and what will be the impact of the steep decline of Christian belief in western societies?

That’s the line of inquiry to be addressed by Greg Sheridan AO, Foreign Editor of The Australian newspaper, and author of the best-selling, God is Good for You: A Defence of Christianity In Troubled Times, in the second Ramsay Lecture for 2019.

Speaking to an audience of high school and university students, business, political and community leaders, Mr. Sheridan will argue that Australians need to be better educated about the role Christianity has played in securing our democratic freedoms. And he will outline his belief that Christianity should remain an important continuing influence, even in our multi-ethnic, pluralistic society, where fewer and fewer Australians are identifying as believers or practicing the faith.

“What did we ever get from Christianity – apart from the idea of the individual, human rights, feminism, liberalism, modernity, social justice and secular politics?” Mr. Sheridan says. “Whether people recognize it or not, Christianity has been central to the development of our western societies and civilisation, and its principles remain integral today.”

Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation CEO Professor Simon Haines says that its Judeo-Christian inheritance is one of the two key pillars of Western civilisation. He applauded Mr. Sheridan’s conscientious study of the role of Christianity in our society, including interviews with political leaders from all persuasions on the impact of their Christian faith on their lives and work.

The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation was created with an endowment from the late Paul Ramsay AO, founder of Ramsay Health Care, to promote a deeper understanding of western civilisation. The Ramsay Lecture series hosts speakers from all walks of life who have important and interesting perspectives relating to the world and our western heritage.

Mr. Sheridan is the second speaker for the Ramsay Lecture Series this year, following last month’s address by former Australian of the Year and burns treatment pioneer Professor Fiona Wood. Other speakers to address the Centre have included economist and columnist Henry Ergas, internationally acclaimed author David Malouf, historian Geoffrey Blainey, sociologist Professor John Carroll, and Dr Pano Kanelos, President of St John’s College Annapolis.

Printed versions of the lectures and video podcasts are available via the ‘News and Events’ section of our website:
www.ramsaycentre.org

Media contact: Sarah Switzer 0407 816 098.

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26 March 2019

National living treasure Fiona Wood delivers first Ramsay Lecture for 2019

Sydney, Tuesday 19 March 2019: What is the impact of western science on today’s society? That’s the question world-renowned burns surgeon and former Australian of the Year, Professor Fiona Wood pondered this evening as she delivered the first Ramsay Lecture for 2019.

Speaking to an audience of high school and university students, medical professionals, journalists, business people and political leaders, Professor Wood argued that despite science’s significant and undeniable benefits, we need to pause and consider what we want science to achieve.

“I witness lives changing in an instant and I strive to bring to the bedside all that modern, or western, science and technology has to offer to reduce suffering,” Professor Wood said. “It is in this context that I am optimistic about the role science plays in our lives. However, I also believe we need to stand back and look at our history to understand and acknowledge the foundations upon which this is all built. As we look to outer space, we need our feet on the ground to consider the impact of our scientific advances on our society.”

Professor Wood, a consultant plastic surgeon from Western Australia, is best known for pioneering the innovative ‘spray-on skin technique’ focusing on reducing the time to healing and life-long scarring in burns survivors, a technique now used world-wide. She is also regarded as a national hero for her work on burns survivors from the 2002 Bali Bombings.

Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation CEO Professor Simon Haines said the great story of western medicine is one we often take for granted, whether it be progress in Fiona’s area of burns, disease eradication, infant mortality, immunization, dentistry and infection control, or the more general truth that we live longer and far more comfortable lives than human beings ever have before.

“As a medical pioneer herself, Professor Wood is in a unique position to analyse the impact western science has had and might continue to have on all the cultures and societies of the world,” Professor Haines said.

The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation was created with an endowment from the late Paul Ramsay AO, founder of Ramsay Health Care, to promote a deeper understanding of western civilisation. The Ramsay Lecture series hosts speakers from all walks of life who have important and interesting perspectives relating to the world and our western heritage.

Professor Wood is the first medical professional and scientist to address the Centre. Her address following lectures last year by economist and columnist Henry Ergas, internationally acclaimed author David Malouf, historian Geoffrey Blainey, sociologist Professor John Carroll, and Dr Pano Kanelos, President of St John’s College Annapolis.

Printed versions of the lectures and video podcasts are available via the ‘News and Events’ section of our website: www.ramsaycentre.org
Media contact: Sarah Switzer 0407 816 098

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6 February 2019

Professor Ann Brewer joins Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation Board

STATEMENT FROM PROFESSOR ANN BREWER

I am honoured to accept the appointment to the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation Board.

One key value of Western civilisation is its openness to interaction between civilisations, and absorbing ideas and languages from outside itself, resulting in its principles and benefits that transcend the West and are highly relevant for the contemporary world today.

The pedagogical foundation of the Great Books approach (literature known well beyond the ‘West’) is transdisciplinary, transcultural and timeless. It requires students to engage actively and independently in their thinking. As the concept of disruption takes hold in both its positive and negative ways, this approach is highly relevant for innovation, entrepreneurship and applying wisdom in any field of pursuit. It builds capability for independence of mind, reflection and most importantly, the capability to question.

 Media contact: Sarah Switzer 0407 816 098/ sarah.switzer@ramsaycentre.org

 

 

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Wisdom is the recovery of innocence at the far end of experience"
- David Bentley Hart