Sydney, Wednesday 06 December 2023: The Australian Catholic University (ACU) recently held a special dinner event at the State Library of NSW to celebrate its third 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, which was also attended by ACU’s Chancellor, the Honourable Martin Daubney AM KC, its Western Civilisation Acting Program Director Professor Hayden Ramsay, several senior ACU executives, and academic staff from the degree program.
The Ramsay Centre was represented by Ramsay Centre director and former Australian Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott AC, Centre CEO Professor Simon Haines, and other members of the Centre’s executive and board.
Most importantly, the event was attended by the growing community of ACU Ramsay Scholars, among them five or six who participated in the evening’s formalities. These included first-year scholars Daniella Blismas and Molly Gee, 2021 scholar Catherine Murphy, new Master of Liberal Arts (Western Civilisation) scholar Simeon Casey, and two Ramsay scholars who wowed the audience with their musicality, Oliver Meleca and Ivan Greguric.
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 $32,000 p.a. for up to five years, with scholars taught in small class groups and receiving academic mentoring.
Professor Skrbis said ACU was deeply honoured to contribute to the late Paul Ramsay’s vision of promoting and deepening the study of western civilisation. He expressed his joy at the program’s growth, saying this year ACU welcomed the largest cohort of Ramsay Scholars to date and launched a Master of Liberal Arts (Western Civilisation) degree, attracting students from a wide array of professional and educational backgrounds.
Professor Skrbis also detailed the extraordinary opportunities open to Ramsay Scholars which this year saw them in experiences as diverse as viewing Shakespeare’s First Folio at the State Library in its 400th anniversary year, to attending seminars of Machiavelli’s The Prince in Florence, to joining archaeological digs in Israel.
The Hon Tony Abbott AC paid tribute to the extraordinary generosity of the Centre’s benefactor, the late Paul Ramsay AO, who as a “man for others” donated the vast bulk of his estate to the Paul Ramsay Foundation for the purpose, first and foremost, of the establishment of the Ramsay Centre. “Paul wanted today’s young people and the young Australians of the future to have access to the education and the formation in the culture which has shaped our world and made countries such as ours such wonderful places to live,” Mr Abbott said.
Ramsay Centre CEO Professor Simon Haines said that one of the defining virtues of Western civilisation was the tendency to focus on the unique reality of each individual life. He told the scholars that reading the long and complex texts they encountered in their degrees would not only serve as an antidote to minds being weakened through digital distraction but heighten their attentiveness to make them more aware of “…individual lives in all their infinite variety so that we see every single life as unique and in fact sacred.”
ACU’s 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 “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.”
Third-year scholar Catherine Murphy said the degree helps develop the whole individual rather than just focus on a specific career path.
“While a liberal arts education on its own might not have instrumental value in landing you a lucrative job, it offers you the invaluable chance to develop what matters most in education – who you are,” Catherine said.
“We students and others here tonight who are involved in the Western Civilisation program are very fortunate to be able to invest our time into thinking about and reflecting on what really matters, reflections which I am certain will shape the rest of our endeavours and the rest of our lives.”
For more information on ACU’s BA (Western Civilisation) and related degrees, go to: https://www.acu.edu.au/course/bachelor-of-arts-western-civilisation
Media contact: Sarah Switzer 0407 816 098/ email@example.com
For more information on the Centre please visit our website: www.ramsaycentre.org