Western studies find home
The University of Wollongong will soon offer a controversial Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation degree.
The University has struck a deal with The Ramsay Centre to provide about 150 scholarships for the new course, worth over $50 million over eight years.
The centre failed to reach an agreement to offer the same course at the Australian National University earlier this year, after the university claimed that the centre wanted to impose conditions that would have affected it academic autonomy.
Negotiations with Sydney University have stalled too, with many of its academics arguing that the focus on Western civilisation was “European supremacism writ large”.
“We've looked into a whole range of issues to do with the autonomy of the university and our governance processes to make sure that we don't fall into the same traps that ANU and possible others thought they were falling into,” Wollongong University Vice Chancellor Paul Wellings said.
The university says it is setting up a new School of Liberal Arts and hiring new academics specifically to teach the degree.
The curriculum will “focus on a detailed examination of the classic intellectual and artistic masterpieces of the Western tradition that demand and repay careful philosophical attention”, the university says.
It will push students to engage in “critical reflection”, and should include overseas trips to the “exemplars of Western culture, art and architecture”.
The degree will use the Socratic method of teaching, which sees small groups of students paired with academics to explore material in depth.
The curriculum is expected to include artworks and architecture as well as important Western texts in philosophy, theology, history, literature and science.
The Ramsay Centre, chaired by former prime minister John Howard, is also looking to run the degree at other universities in Sydney and Queensland.