Jordan Baker, ‘English academics reject a Ramsay-funded great books program’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 01.11.18
Sydney University is divided over the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation’s offer to fund a three-year, great books-style program. Supporters argue it is a good opportunity for students, while opponents say it is an ideological Trojan horse for right wing critics of universities.
The latest letter, which was sent on Thursday and is believed to have received unanimous approval during a department meeting, said no rationale had been given for the proposed program.
“This leads us to suspect that the unspoken rationale is a disregard on the part of the Ramsay Centre for the values that inform our teaching and a desire to pursue a political agenda under the guise of, and with the legitimacy given by, an academic program,” it said.
If the centre’s interest in the critical consideration of canonical western texts was genuine, it said, “it could give immediate effect to it by offering financial support to those areas of the humanities and social sciences … that already study those texts in depth.”
Five other departments, including government, political economy and sociology, have also written open letters rejecting any partnership with Ramsay.
But not everyone in those departments is opposed. Salvatore Babones, an associate professor in sociology, would like to see a Ramsay-funded course proceed.
“The Ramsay Centre proposal is clearly ideological, but everything we teach is ideological,” he said.
“Professors’ claims to the contrary are absurd.”…