The battle for Western Civilisation

September 05, 2018

The battle over Sydney Univer­sity’s proposed Western civilisation course has intensified amid criticism from staff that it amounts to a “regressive ideological agenda predicated on the inferiority of non-Western cultural traditions”, ahead of a meeting of “concerned” academics called for tomorrow.

The Conservative Party supports the establishment of an Australian University course in Western Civilisation as that is the culture on which our nation was founded and it continues to have relevance despite non-Western migration here.

The "concerned" academics were invited, by email,  to a meeting, to discuss the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation’s proposed liberal arts-style course — a style of course common in many American universities — focused on “great books” and “masterpieces” of the Western tradition.

The meeting will be held in advance of the University’s vice-chancellor, Michael Spence, releasing a draft memorandum of understanding between Sydney and Ramsay at a meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences board.

The emailed invitation stressed the importance of safeguarding “our faculty’s commitment to diversity, pluralism and multiculturalism, and to make a collective statement, as researchers and teachers in the humanities and social sciences, that European cultural supremacy has no place in our institution.”

The email said the Ramsay Centre’s “regressive” ideological agenda was a reality “regardless of the details of its eventual curriculum or the good intentions of those teaching it or any colleagues who might currently support it”.

“The Ramsay Centre will interrupt, by ideological means, the international standards of independent scholarship … The academic and reputational damage to the university and its members will be consequential,” it said.

The proposed Ramsay course, which is still in development, comes with a $64 million grant from the bequest of businessman Paul Ramsay, who died in 2014. The Ramsay proposal was rejected by the Australian National University, citing concerns about academic autonomy, earlier this year.

Dr Spence has reassured staff and students that the Ramsay Centre, chaired by former prime minister John Howard, would have “zero” input into any course of study. The proposal would need to be approved by the university’s academic board.

In an interview with The Weekend Australian, Dr Spence strongly rejected claims Sydney was considering an ideologically loaded course.

Earlier this year, Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi told The Bolt Report on Sky News he was appalled by the ANU's rejection of the course.

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