About us

About the School of Liberal Arts

The School of Liberal Arts was founded in 2019. It offers an original and distinctive liberal arts program – one that is historically rich yet forward-looking in focusing firmly on contemporary concerns and questions. In creating opportunities for respectful conversations between Western and non-Western traditions of thought and art, it answers to the needs of a multi-cultural 21st century.

Our program is carefully designed to introduce students to non-Western and under-represented voices and perspectives. They encounter such diversity right from the beginning of their studies in foundational first year subjects. Students will learn tolerance and mutual respect as they consider how divergent and sometimes competing ideas and ideals – both those stemming from within and beyond Western traditions of thought and art - can interact and inform each other. Students will learn how these ideas matter, for good or ill. The degree will create authentic opportunities to better understand the ideas of thinkers of very different traditions, including culturally distinct traditions. Our students will learn why focusing on great achievements of Western civilisation should never involve denigrating great achievements of other traditions and why all of these deserve our attention.

Our unique educational enterprise seeks to instil the epistemic virtues characterised by the spirit of open questioning in all of our students. They will learn how to think – and how to think well – not what to think. They will develop the interpersonal skills and virtues needed for civic participation in rational discussion and argument. In sum, they will become both intellectually humble yet fearless.

Ramsay Centre partnership

The School of Liberal Arts is grateful to the Ramsay Centre for its generous gift of upward of $50 million, which was awarded after extensive competitive review. The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation launched in November 2017 and is funded as part of Paul Ramsay’s $3 billion bequest. The Ramsay Centre’s donation to the University of Wollongong aims to help us to revive the study of the liberal arts and humanities – it constitutes what has been described as “the biggest philanthropic gift in the history of education in Australia”.

This investment has allowed us to fund the creation of our new School of Liberal Arts, with attendant staff appointments and generous student scholarships, and make possible our new Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation degree. We are proud to partner with the Ramsay Centre to create a ‘great works’ degree that will be unique in the Australian context - one that will employ innovative teaching methods that are designed to challenge students to think critically about the material they encounter throughout their studies.

For further information about the partnership please see our frequently asked questions.

In coming years, we will appoint outstanding scholars and researchers to enhance the School’s academic team. Together we will embark on the exciting initiative of bringing the of the School’s flagship undergraduate Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation, and its associated degrees, to life.

“This Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation offers a welcome chance for students to make sustained contact with great works and through that to explore questions that matter for the world.” Baroness Onora O’Neill Member of the House of Lords, President of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, former Principal of Newnham College of the University of Cambridge