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 centres on the study of great works of art, architecture, classics, literature, politics, religion, science, and philosophy. The degree 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 Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation degree is centrally focused on studying the great works of Western civilisation, but it is also 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 learn to be tolerant and respectful of difference as they consider how diverse and sometimes competing ideas and ideals – stemming both from within and beyond Western traditions of thought and art – can valuably interact and inform each other. Students learn how these ideas matter, for good or ill.

The degree creates authentic opportunities for better understanding the ideas of thinkers of very different traditions, including culturally distinct traditions. Our students learn why focusing on great achievements of a tradition of thought need never involve denigrating great achievements of other traditions and why the achievements of all traditions deserve due respect and recognition.

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 Western Civilisation 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 a $3 billion bequest from Paul Ramsay. The Ramsay Centre’s donation to the University of Wollongong has significantly helped us to expand our offerings for 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”.

The Ramsay Centre investment funds the operation of our School of Liberal Arts, supporting its outstanding staff appointments and generous student scholarships which, together, make possible our distinctive Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation degree. We are proud to partner with the Ramsay Centre to offer a ‘great works’ degree that is unique in the Australian context - one that employs innovative teaching methods designed to challenge students to think critically about the material they encounter throughout their studies.

“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