ACU, Ramsay Centre celebrate second year of partnership

Dec 2, 2022 | Announcements, News & Media

Sydney, Friday 02 December 2022: The Australian Catholic University (ACU) recently held a special dinner event to celebrate its second year of partnership with the Ramsay Centre, and to reflect on the achievements of its BA (Western Civilisation) degree program.

ACU Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Zlatko Skrbis hosted the dinner, attended by senior ACU executives, Ramsay Centre CEO Professor Simon Haines, ACU Western Civilisation Program Director Professor Robert Carver, Ramsay Centre board members, and teachers from the degree program.

Most importantly, the event was attended by ACU Ramsay Scholars who participated in the formalities of the evening. Second year scholar Emily Nix, and first year scholar Nicholas Long, spoke about the impact of the degree on their lives, while musically talented scholars, vocalist Abigail Adriano, and musician Caleb Anderson wowed the audience with uplifting jazz and folk performances.

The Ramsay Centre and ACU entered a partnership in 2020. Worth approximately $50 million over eight years, the partnership enables ACU to offer its BA (Western Civilisation) degree program, to offer at least 150 undergraduate scholarships over that period, and to hire world-class educators. Each ACU Ramsay Scholarship is worth $30,000 p.a. for up to five years, with scholars taught in small class groups and receiving academic mentoring.

Addressing the audience, Professor Skrbis expressed his gratitude to the Centre and the late Paul Ramsay AO for the generosity of the partnership, saying he was delighted to report interest in the BA (Western Civilisation) program had grown considerably since its beginnings in 2021, leading to the development of more related and combined degrees.

Professor Skrbis said extraordinary opportunities were available to ACU Ramsay Scholars, including studying for a semester at ACU’s Rome campus, participating in archaeological digs in Israel, and joining with fellow UQ and UOW Ramsay Scholars on cultural excursions like their recent visit to the National Museum, Canberra.

“At the beginning of 2022 we launched the double degree BA (Western Civilisation)/Bachelor of Laws and our staff has since developed a second double degree combining the BA (Western Civilisation) with a Master of Teaching (Secondary),” Professor Skrbis said.

The ACU Western Civilisation degrees explore “the past, present and future of Western intellectual life and culture through immersion in some of the key literary, philosophical, artistic, religious, political and scientific works that have shaped the Western intellectual tradition from antiquity to the present.”

They offer students the opportunity to “delve into works by Plato and Aristotle; Augustine and Aquinas; Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo; Homer and Shakespeare; Locke and Hume; Dickens and Tolstoy – to explore, critique and debate their enduring influence.”

Ramsay Board Director Joe de Bruyn AO praised the degrees, saying the students would never regret their study which would give them “…a broad understanding of Western literature, arts, philosophy, politics, religion, history, and science, and how these have shaped the modern world, the way we live, our civil liberties, and our democracy.”

Turning attention to the books covered in the program, Ramsay Centre CEO Professor Simon Haines encouraged the scholars to embrace the challenge of reading difficult texts, reminding them that “the process of finding meaning and interest in the act of reading a complex book, is also the process of making meaning and interest in the mind of the reader, enlarging and deepening the mind by immersing it in or infusing it with the reality of the book.”

He encouraged the students to judge books by thinking about whether reading them made them a wiser person, a more interesting person, more perceptive and more recognitive of the reality of other people. He also implored them to always seek to determine the most comprehensive, penetrative, fundamental, capturing message of each text, to better understand its meaning, both in the time it was written and to the person reading it today.

First year Ramsay Scholar Nicholas Long said the course had been challenging and had helped him truly engage with texts, to feel them and enjoy their hidden nuances rather than simply read them in search of obvious interpretations and answers. He said through this experience, he had come to view his life differently.

“In the space that existed between me and whatever it was that my attention was on, I found interest, I found beauty, I found people and things that I thought about in ways entirely new, catalysing waves of empathy and of appreciation for such minute phenomena,” Nicholas said.

“Aside from the great, world-changing ideas covered in the classroom, what this degree really is, is a study of something really, really importantly invisible, the spaces. The space between you and me, between you and your husband, your wife, your friends, your family. It’s finding meaning in the awfully common, everyday banalities.”

Second year Ramsay Scholar Emily Nix said being part of the Western Civilisation program was one of the greatest privileges of her life, remarking that her world, comfort zone and curiosity had “expanded beyond recognition.”

“I will never look at the world, culture, and history the same because of this course,” she said. “The skills I have learnt to develop and hone throughout this course are invaluable. Every debate I’ll have, will be well backed by grace, empathy and experience and every conversation between friends and strangers alike will move from being ‘just another conversation’ to one that is built upon a rich and deep foundation of knowledge and tradition.”

For more information on ACU’s BA (Western Civilisation) and related degrees, go to:

Media contact: Sarah Switzer 0407 816 098/

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