2023 UOW Ramsay Scholars Retreat

Jun 1, 2023 | Announcements, News & Media

01 June 2023: The 2023 UOW Ramsay Scholars have attended a special retreat in Kiama. The retreat is designed to introduce first-year scholars, as they begin their study, to some of their later-year fellow students in the Western civilisation program, and also to graduate students and academic staff in the School of Liberal Arts (SOLA).

Thanks to a partnership agreement between the Ramsay Centre and the University of Wollongong (UOW), these high-achieving students are supported to complete UOW’s Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation degree, through scholarships of up to $32,000 p.a. The scholars are taught in small class groups and receive academic mentoring. This is the fourth cohort of UOW Ramsay Scholars since the establishment of UOW’s SOLA in 2020.

The retreat, held early in each cohort’s first year of study, is designed as an icebreaker for the scholars, who will study the same subjects together throughout the course of their degree. UOW’s BA in Western Civilisation is billed as a ‘course for the intellectually fearless’ designed to ‘help students discover the enduring insights of the greatest thinkers, poets, and artists of Western civilisation’ and ‘become part of a conversation about ideas that have changed the world as we know it.’

This year’s annual Staff and Student Retreat was held at The Sebel Harbourside in Kiama, on the weekend of April 21-23. The event was attended by academic staff, the Head of School, Senior Professor Dan Hutto, the School Manager, Meaghan Koch, and Student Success Officer, Kirsten Mawby. All 2023 scholars attended as well as students enrolled in graduate research within SOLA.

Professor Simon Haines, CEO of the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, opened the event on the Friday night with a thought-provoking discussion of the value of the mode of critical inquiry fostered in the liberal arts model of education, contextualised in terms of an interesting history of the development of the university.

Saturday started with a series of short presentations from new graduate students Josef Kohlmaier, Benedetta Cogo, Marco Degano, and Lorena Sganzerla, and from Ian Robertson, who recently submitted his PhD.

Attendees then took a leisurely walk to the Kiama Blowhole, stopped to take photos, and walked around the local markets. Following lunch, attendees heard from the first keynote speaker, Associate Professor Melissa Merritt from UNSW, who gave an interesting talk on Kant and Stoic moral philosophy. This was followed by a trivia quiz show hosted by current first year student volunteers Callia Spreitzer, Willam Ursino, Emily Pisanikovski, and Amy Miners.

In the evening the second keynote speaker, Dr. Tom Geue, a lecturer in classics at the Australian National University, spoke on the ‘enslaved muse’ in Roman poetry, discussing the ways in which the true authorship of a great work can be obscured by relationships of power.

The next morning first year students Bharathi Gotyal, Mark Russell and Emma Cranby led students and staff in a debate focused on the question: ‘Do we have to be free in order to be good?’.

While many scholars initially said they felt that goodness was separable from freedom, some later came to consider the possibility that being good required choice, which in turn requires freedom. Following this rich discussion, the event wrapped up with closing remarks from Head of School Professor Hutto, and appreciative thanks to everyone involved in making the event a great success.

For more information on UOW’s Bachelor of Western Civilisation degree go to: https://www.uow.edu.au/the-arts-social-sciences-humanities/schools-entities/liberal-arts/courses-study-options/

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

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