Ramsay Centre supports ACU to offer new Master of Liberal Arts degree

Aug 4, 2023 | Announcements, News & Media, PG News

Sydney, Friday 03 August 2023: As part of its philanthropic gift to the Humanities in Australia, the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation is supporting a new Master of Liberal Arts (Western Civilisation) degree at the Australian Catholic University (ACU).

The degree which started this week, will enable students to deepen and broaden their knowledge and expertise of Western culture through a structured and integrated humanities masters-level course. Centred on a ‘great books’ or ‘canonical’ approach, students will study major works of history, literature, philosophy and art in small-group seminar style discussions.

In addition to funding the teachers for the course, the Ramsay Centre will also fund up to ten scholarships each year in the Master’s program, worth up to $48,000 over 1.5 years. Scholarships will be awarded to students who demonstrate the Ramsay attributes of a critical habit of mind (honed through debate and discussion of ideas with respectful consideration of different views and perspectives) and future leadership committed to the enrichment of society and the promotion of a common good.

Course Coordinator Associate Professor Johanna Harris said the degree was a rare gem in the Australian educational landscape, focusing on the great works of Western intellectual traditions and cultures from antiquity to the present.

“Students get the chance to study the classics of literature, history, philosophy, and art – works that have endured because they still have something to teach us, even after hundreds or thousands of years. The course is taught by world-class academics with wide-ranging interdisciplinary expertise and the small group seminar setting gives students the opportunity to participate actively in discussions and allows for the open exchange of ideas, values, and beliefs,” Associate Professor Harris said.

Simeon Casey is one of the first cohort in the Master of Liberal Arts program and said the course attracted him because as he progressed through his Bachelor degree, he came to appreciate the process of “slow reading…looking at Great Books for an extended period and wrestling with their complexities.”

“I desire exposure to all the thought and imagination that lies in the great books of Western Civilisation because so many images are contained within them that say something about what life is, about what is true and what is beautiful,” he said.

“A degree like this is key to understanding so much more of what it means to be human and how to live my life. I hoped the Master of Liberal Arts at ACU would offer me an opportunity to delve into literature and philosophy under the guidance of teachers who have immersed themselves for years in great books. In only the first week of classes I have been more than confirmed in this hope.” 

Simeon said he was grateful to receive a generous scholarship from the Ramsay Centre as it meant he no longer needs to work full time and juggle university.

Ramsay Centre Academic Director Professor Diana Glenn said the degree was the first Master’s level course the Centre has supported in Australia; part of a deliberate decision to expand the potential reach of the Centre’s immensely popular Western Civilisation courses to a broader audience.

“We wanted to ensure that Australians already in established careers and in the workforce could also access this remarkable education,” Professor Glenn said.

“The Great Books have so much to teach us at all life stages and the critical thinking skills acquired through their study, as well as the creativity they inspire will be an asset in the future careers of those who study them at the Master’s level.”

“ACU’s exceptional curriculum encourages students to take a deep dive into fundamental and universal questions that have exercised the human mind and spirit for millennia. The course is already attracting professionals in the workforce who are drawn to the prospect of a stimulating engagement with the interdisciplinary readings on offer.”

For more information on the Master of Liberal Arts, visit Master of Liberal Arts (Western Civilisation) | ACU courses

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