Undergraduate Scholar in focus: Nick Long

Jul 11, 2024 | Announcements, News & Media


For Nick Long, the relationship between the arts and law is central to his pursuit to be a great lawyer.

The Ramsay Scholarship recipient for Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Western civilisation program is halfway through his Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation)/Bachelor of Laws.

Having loved English as a teenager, the double degree combines his passion for literature with a growing commitment to public service and the law.

“Coming from the liberal arts focus of my degree, I’m studying particular subjects like literature and politics, which are often quite broad topics, and we’re often reading the works of great thinkers from a millennia ago like Homer, Plato, Augustine,” said Nick. 

“At the moment we’ve been studying the work of philosopher John Locke, and in law we’re doing a property course. Being able to incorporate John Locke’s theory of property and other broad conceptual legal theories to understand of modern property law act has really helped me.

“Our first assignment was on concepts of property law, but it felt like an arts assignment since I was just looking at all my notes on John Locke from last year.”

Although initially provided an early offer into a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws through ACU Guarantee, Nick instead took up the opportunity to apply for a Ramsay Scholarship of $160,000 to enrol in the Western civilisation program.

The Ramsay name was extremely familiar to him in high school, since both he and Paul Ramsay AO, founder of the Ramsay Centre which funds ACU’s Western Civilisation program, share the same alma mater in St Ignatius’ College, Riverview.

“Paul Ramsay’s brother, Fr Jack Ramsay, served at Riverview for a number of years, and both he and Paul really carried the Jesuit ideas of being men for others into the rest of their lives,” said Nick.

“I definitely see those ideas in this scholarship – giving so greatly in the hope of allowing others to pursue some sort of excellence. It’s something I’m so extremely grateful for.”

The unique coursework of the Western civilisation course is not the only way liberal arts complements law. Nick is also taking advantage of developing the soft skills that will make him a more impactful, human-centred lawyer. 

“I attended an awards ceremony recently and the Chancellor, the Honourable Martin Daubney AM KC, who was a Supreme Court Justice, gave his remarks and said, ‘Law is fundamentally about people,’”

“A good example of this at ACU is I did an elective last year that was around human rights and business regulation, which was a lot less legal than some of my other electives, but we were looking at the Modern Slavery Act and the UN Charter of Human Rights and how that applies to businesses and regulations in Australia. 

“When you can get such a comprehensive top-to-bottom idea of the law, it inspires you to think of law as making a positive difference.

“I’ve definitely found that ACU has a deep focus on human rights in the law, and it’s the main reason I’m really happy that I chose ACU.”

Inside the Western civilisation classes, students are encouraged to work through texts in a slow and intentional manner, which has helped his understanding of law enormously.

“The unique thing about the Western civilisation degree is it’s not hours of PowerPoints or hundreds of pages reading dry texts,” said Nick. 

“You come into class and often we’ll focus on two lines of an entire book, for example, and analysing that could take three hours. It teaches you how to think about concepts rather than rote learn them. 

“I find that useful when you get to problem questions in law, where you’ve had to study all these concepts but then suddenly you have a problem question that doesn’t fit neatly into a case study or into existing legislation. 

“I’ve learned to think differently through the Western civilisation degree.”

Going from a Catholic high school informed by the spirituality of St Ignatius of Loyola, straight into a Catholic university, Nick has also been re-examining the role of religion as a student.

“I’ve never been asked if I was Catholic, but it was one of the first questions I was asked by other students at ACU. I had to think, what does that actually mean?” he said.

Born into a Northern Irish family, the fraught and often turbulent religious history of the region imbued much of Nick’s understanding of the Catholic faith growing up.

“I joke with some of my friends that my family were ‘ethnically Catholic’ but we’d go to Mass on Sunday as kids and never really know what was going on,” said Nick.

“Now that I’m coming to a higher education institution that is Catholic, you see how the faith permeates all the way down. Understanding the Catholic intellectual tradition through my degree, and experiencing the practical aspects of faith, I find myself getting a lot closer to the teachings that I was supposed to be learning as a kid or at school. Particularly when things are getting quite hectic at uni or with work or with family and everything, going back to what I had learned at school makes a massive difference.

“Today religion is often talked about as something that’s impractical but in my experience, particularly being at ACU, it’s definitely not the case.”

Although graduation is still a distant dream for Nick, the opportunities as a student are endless.

“I was at the ACU Rome Campus for six months last year doing my Western civilisation subjects. Many of our professors in the program have come from overseas, and it’s giving us opportunities to attend summer schools in the United Kingdom or the United States of America,

“In the law school I’m doing two moots right now.”

More than anything, he’s grateful to receive a scholarship that has opened doors for his future.

“When you enjoy what you’re studying and you have a scholarship this large, you want to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way,” he said. “I’m very happy to stay here for the next few years, or even longer.”

For information on studying Western Civilisation at ACU visit: https://www.acu.edu.au/study-at-acu/find-a-course/new-courses/western-civilisation

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

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