Centre Academic Director visits St. John’s College, Annapolis Ramsay Scholars

Oct 27, 2023 | Announcements, News & Media, PG News

Friday, 27 October 2023: Centre Academic Director Professor Diana Glenn recently visited Ramsay Postgraduate Scholars studying at St. John’s College, Annapolis in the US, to discuss their studies and tour their beautiful campus and living quarters. Professor Glenn also used the opportunity to meet with St. John’s College leadership and participate in the famed St. John’s seminar and other St. John’s academic activities.

Professor Glenn was eagerly met by the 2022 and 2023 Ramsay Postgraduate Scholars who are undertaking the College’s world-renowned Master of Liberal Arts degree: a two-year ‘Great Books’ course exploring some of the most profound and foundational texts in history. The scholars are supported by Ramsay scholarships worth up to AUD$75,000 p.a. which covers their tuition and some living expenses. The course also includes an exciting opportunity to work in nearby Washington, DC.

At St. John’s, students have been reading the Great Books since 1937. No class has more than 20 students and each session begins “…with a question formulated to foster a genuine investigation into the meaning of a text, not to elicit a ready-made answer.” From Aristotle to Aquinas, Wordsworth to Woolf, Herodotus to Hegel, ‘Johnnies’ explore the greatest thinkers of all time in a challenging, interdisciplinary program.

Annapolis is a picturesque seaside town in the state of Maryland. Founded in 1649, it was where the call was issued to form the Constitutional Convention leading to the foundation of modern America. Given St. John’s is situated in the historic area of Annapolis, the scholars and Professor Glenn took advantage of the short walk to the Maryland Statehouse to learn about its unique past.

The Maryland Statehouse hosts the state’s legislature, which includes the House of Delegates, the Senate, and the office of the governor. It served as the first peacetime capitol of the United States but is perhaps most notable for being the location where George Washington resigned his leadership of the Continental Army, after the defeat of the British in the War of Independence. The scholars and Professor Glenn are pictured with Washington’s original hand-written letter of resignation, which he read out to the assembly on that day.

The US Naval Academy is also near St. John’s. During her visit Professor Glenn accompanied St. John’s Graduate Institute Dean Dr Brendan Boyle, 2022 Ramsay Postgraduate Scholar Michael Connors and St. John’s Ramsay Scholar alumnus Bejamin Crocker on a visit to the US Naval Academy’s Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership to discuss ongoing and future collaborations between the Naval Academy, St. John’s, and Ramsay Scholars. The group engaged in very fruitful discussions and toured the academy.

Two days of Professor Glenn’s visit to Annapolis were set aside for time on the St. John’s College campus. On the first day, the college leadership team including the College President, College Dean, Graduate Institute Dean, and Ramsay Scholar Mentor, hosted Professor Glenn for a lunchtime meeting. Professor Glenn also attended a tour of the St. John’s College campus and Rare Books section of the library, observed an evening session of scholar classes, and participated in the weekly Graduate Institute after-class social gathering.

On the final day of Professor Glenn’s visit, a special seminar was held to mark the occasion. Professor Glenn and the Ramsay scholars were joined by other postgraduate students at the College to discuss a poem by Australian poet Les Murray, titled ‘The Quality of Sprawl’, led by the Graduate Institute Dean, Brendan Boyle. This was a great opportunity for Professor Glenn to participate in the St. John’s seminar style of discussion, and for the wider St. John’s community to learn more about their Australian colleagues, in the Ramsay Scholars.

Following this special seminar, the group was treated to a motivational presentation by guest speaker, Brad Snyder, a retired U.S. Navy veteran who was injured whilst sweeping for bombs in Afghanistan. Snyder majored in naval architecture at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. After graduating in 2006, he completed specialist training at the Navy’s Bomb Disposal School in Fort Eglin, Florida. Snyder was deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. In the fall of 2011, while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan, he was severely injured, losing his eyesight when he initiated an improvised landmine.

After his injury, Snyder resolved not to be deterred from a successful life. He decided to compete at the Paralympics for swimming, a sport he had previously competed in as a midshipman at the Naval Academy. He went on to win a gold medal at the London Paralympics exactly one year to the day that he lost his eyesight. Subsequently, Snyder represented the USA at three Paralympic Games, winning multiple gold medals. He is currently completing a PhD at Princeton University.

2022 Ramsay Scholar Michael Connors said the scholars noted key takeaways from Snyder’s presentation – his emphasis on teamwork, gratitude, and having a ‘relentlessly positive attitude’.

“He insisted that any significant achievement, personal or otherwise usually involves a team,” Michael said.

“He reflected on how the thrill of winning his gold medal at the Paralympics was accompanied by a deep feeling of gratitude for all those who helped him achieve this goal; the military teams who evacuated him from battle, the medical staff who helped with his recovery, the coaches who assisted with training, and his family who had supported him emotionally. Snyder also emphasised how his own relentlessly positive attitude was a necessary element for his recovery and overall success. He said that he had to believe that he would overcome his injury and be a successful person, and that his ‘relentless positivity’ was the fuel that helped inspire himself, and others, in this belief.”

“St. John’s College provides students with the opportunity to learn about the most important ideas from the ‘Great Books’ of Western history. Along with themes of courage, honour, virtue, friendship, and duty, Brad Snyder’s story inspired the Ramsay Scholars to reflect on the important ideas of teamwork, gratitude, and ‘relentless positivity’ and how these could be applied to their own goals after graduating. Snyder’s presentation was as captivating as it was inspirational. The St. John’s students and staff, the Ramsay Scholars, and Professor Glenn were all deeply moved by this presentation.”

To mark the special occasion of Professor Glenn’s first visit to Annapolis, and to gain feedback from the scholars on the St. John’s program, a few meals and conversations were shared at the college and in Annapolis. Her visit was capped off with a reception at the Ramsay Scholar residence and a dinner at a local restaurant, generously hosted by St. John’s college and the Graduate Institute Dean, Dr Brendan Boyle. 

“The Ramsay Scholars had a wonderful time showing Professor Glenn all the unique aspects of studying at St. John’s College, in the beautiful town of Annapolis,” Michael Connors said.

“She received a thorough tour of the area, gained valuable insight into the scholar experience, and shared in the St. John’s educational approach. It was clear to Professor Glenn that the Ramsay Scholars enjoy their scholarship experience deeply and highly value the great books liberal arts education they receive at St. John’s College.”

Interested in our Ramsay Postgraduate Scholarship pathway to St. John’s? Learn more at: The Ramsay Centre, St John’s College, Annapolis, Ramsay Postgraduate Scholarship

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