In an email circulated by Chair, Academic Board and Council, Professor Raymond da Silva Rosa, it has been stated that,

“Ian Hardy, Head of St George’s College, wishes to discuss with UWA academics a proposal for a summer school to be run jointly by the College and The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation.  St George’s is free to run such a program independently but Ian is keen to explore the potential for engagement by the wider University”.

The controversial right-wing aligned Ramsey Centre describes its objective on their website as to:

 “advance education by promoting studies and discussion associated with the establishment and development of western civilisation, including through establishing scholarship funds and educational courses in partnership with universities”. 

Their aims as per their website are listed below:

“We will be:

  • creating BA degrees in Western Civilisation in collaboration with two or three Australian universities, initially in NSW and the ACT, but also if possible further afield;
  • supporting these degrees through a suite of Ramsay Undergraduate Scholarships and the creation of new academic positions;
  • endowing a number of national Ramsay Postgraduate Scholarships, open to recent Australian graduates from a range of academic disciplines, for study at prestigious overseas universities; and
  • establishing a programme of summer schools, distinguished visiting lectures and other events designed to promote a wider appreciation of western civilisation.”

Universities across the country have already received significant funding to establish courses. Namely, the University of Wollongong has received 50 million dollars worth in funding over eight years from the Centre ” to deliver the controversial Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation degree”.   The course was previously rejected by the Australian National University (ANU) who said the course and “the conditions attached affected its academic autonomy”.

Additionally, a staff led campaign at the University of Sydney formally expressed disdain at a similar proposal at a meeting earlier this year with their Media and Communications staff. The motion opposing the proposal read that,

“The rhetoric of western civilisation is highly problematic and certainly in contradiction with the ideals of Australia’s multicultural society and its role in the Asia Pacific region,” the motion read….A conversation on western culture – already impossible to define – could not even start without the richness, interconnectivity, scale and complex relations of the multiple communities that have contributed to its flourishing.”

The Centre also came under criticism recently for:

“including The American Conservative editor Rod Dreher and University of Chicago academic Rachel Fulton-Brown on its 2019 lecture series speakers list.” 

The latter, Rachel Fulton-Brown is an Associate Professor in History at the University of Chicago and a collaborator/ admirer of right wing commentator, Milo Yiannopoulos.  

However, as per the email from Professor Raymond da Silva Rosa describes,

“No decision will be made nor will a resolution be put to the vote.  The aim is to have a conversation that might lead to a decision or resolution debated at a future formal meeting of Academic Board”.

The talk is to be held on Tuesday 2 July 2019 from 6 pm in the Alexander LT (Arts building).

More to come.

Words by Sophie Minissale with additional reporting by Bridget Rumball.