A Reflection on Liberal Education

An exclusive panel discussion with Emily Langston, Simon Haines and Stephen McInerney

Panel discussion with Emily Langston, Simon Haines and Stephen McInerney

What is liberal education? How is it different from professional or practical education? What does it set out to do and how does it form us?

To help uncover some of the distinctive features of liberal arts and great books programs, the Ramsay Centre is delighted to present our seventh Ramsay lecture event for 2023: a panel discussion comprising leading experts on approaches to delivering successful liberal arts programs. The conversation provides a focus on the pedagogical model delivered at St John’s College, Annapolis, where fundamental texts and a core curriculum offer a unique model of self-formation.

Please join our esteemed panellists as they share their expertise and experience, and engage in a stimulating discussion about the benefits of liberal education.  


Dr Emily Langston, Graduate Institute, St John’s College, Annapolis

Emily Langston was until recently the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at St John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, where she has been a member of the faculty since 1995. She holds Masters degrees from Oxford University and the University of Chicago, and a PhD from Emory University where she was a Jacob K. Javitz Fellow. Before assuming her role as Head of the Graduate Institute in 2015, she taught in the Graduate Institute and throughout the all-required multidisciplinary undergraduate program at St John’s. She has been particularly interested in efforts to expand and democratise access to discussion-based liberal education. She serves on the Advisory Council of the Touchstones Discussion Project and the Board of the Great Questions Foundation. She has been involved in the development and implementation of educational programming for K-12 schools, for community colleges, and for governmental and non-governmental organizations including the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Aspen Institute.

Professor Simon Haines, CEO, Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation

Professor Simon Haines is a distinguished scholar, teacher and author, and passionate advocate for the humanities. Educated in Iraq, England and Australia, Simon took a BA at the Australian National University and a DPhil in English literature at the University of Oxford. He worked as a banker in London and then as a diplomat and analyst with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Office of National Assessments. He led the OECD Budget Committee as Chairman from 1985-1987. Simon then taught English Literature at the Australian National University from 1990 to 2008, where he also served as Head of the School of Humanities. In 2009 he was appointed Chair Professor and Head of English at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he also served as Director of the Research Centre for Human Values. He is a founding member of the Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities. In 2017 he was appointed CEO of the Ramsay Centre. Simon is the author or editor of five books including the prizewinning Reader in European Romanticism (Bloomsbury, 2010, 2nd paperback edition 2014) and Poetry and Philosophy from Homer to Rousseau (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). His most recent book is the edited volume Shakespeare and Value (Routledge, May 2018).

Dr Stephen McInerney, Director, Centre for the Study of the Western Tradition, Campion College

Stephen McInerney is Senior Lecturer in Literature and Director of the Centre for the Study of the Western Tradition at Campion College, Sydney. Part of the original faculty at Campion, he has taught across the entire literature curriculum offered by the College. From 2017-2021, he was a member of the Executive of the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, first as Executive Officer and then Academic Director and Deputy CEO, and continues part-time at Ramsay as Academic Consultant. Representing the Ramsay Centre, he has been part of scholarship selection panels at the University of Queensland, the University of Wollongong and Australian Catholic University, and has also served on the Ramsay Postgraduate Scholarship selection panel. His published works include The Enclosure of An Open Mystery: Sacrament and Incarnation in the Writings of Gerard Manley Hopkins, David Jones and Les Murray (Peter Lang, 2012) and two volumes of poetry, In Your Absence (2002), chosen by Les Murray as a Times Literary Supplement ‘Book of the Year’, and The Wind Outside (2016).

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