The University of Queensland expects to offer an extended major in Western Civilisation with effect from 2020 after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation in Sydney.
UQ’s Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, and the Ramsay Centre Chair of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, signed the MOU, outlining plans to establish, deliver and fund the program for eight years.
Under the arrangement, the Ramsay Centre would fund 10 full-time equivalent academic staff to deliver the program including a Director, supported by two new professional staff, and 150 scholarships for high-achieving students with a keen interest in the liberal arts.
UQ Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Peter Høj, said he and the Chancellor Peter Varghese were very pleased to have reached an agreement with the Ramsay Centre.
“Through the generosity of the late Paul Ramsay and his trustees, UQ will benefit from a level of philanthropic support rarely seen in the humanities in Australia,” Professor Høj said.
“With it comes the opportunity to offer a rigorous sequence of study focused on small-group discussion, a study aboard program and student-centred learning.
“This level of investment in the humanities at UQ comes at a time when opportunities to maintain these foundational disciplines are diminishing.
“What we have ahead of us is a transformational opportunity for talented future students who will be able to pursue a liberal arts education that will be both challenging and rewarding, and will equip students with the collaborative and persuasive skills to bring about meaningful change.
“As has been made clear since negotiations with the Ramsay Centre began, UQ will maintain autonomy over all key governance arrangements including course content, teaching standards, student admissions, selection of scholarship applicants, staff appointments, and academic and intellectual freedom.”
The extended major in Western Civilisation will be available via two pathways – a Bachelor of Advanced Humanities (Honours) and a Bachelor of Humanities (Western Civilisation) / Bachelor of Laws (Honours).
Professor Høj said the curriculum had been developed and refined by UQ academics over many months and had gone through UQ’s course and program approval process including careful deliberations and subsequent recommendation by Academic Board that this program go ahead.
The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Executive Dean Professor Heather Zwicker said the extended major was a course of study with a focus on the key intellectual movements that have shaped Western Civilisation from antiquity to the current day. The course would be taught in a pluralistic mode.
“Through engaging with and debating major works of literature, art, music, politics, law, and religion, students will gain an awareness of how the categories of culture, humanity, indigeneity, gender, status, race, and power, have shaped both the contemporary world and past societies,” Professor Zwicker said.
“Students will explore representations of ‘the West’, encounter influential ideas from the past and will be encouraged to examine their relevance to today’s disrupted world in the context of the ‘great books’ – what they have to say about these issues and also what was not said.”
Professor Høj said that UQ was very hopeful that exceptional graduates, able to progress our society through respectful and informed debate, would be the key legacy of the program.