Former Prime Ministers launch Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation
Jan 08, 2018
The new Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, funded with part of Paul Ramsay’s $3 billion bequest, was launched in November 2017.
Before his death, Paul had proposed that a significant part of his personal fortune be spent on funding an academic centre to revive the liberal arts and humanities. It is the biggest philanthropic gift in the history of education in Australia and universities are currently vying for the chance to offer a new western civilisation degree.
The new Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation will offer a western civilisation arts degree in two or possibly three universities in NSW and the ACT, as well as fund 30 generous scholarships at each selected university.
Paul had a great love of Australia and a deep sense of gratitude towards the country in which he grew up and thrived. But he was troubled that so few Australians shared his appreciation of the civilisation which has contributed so much to the success of Australia as a nation.
After meeting with one of his oldest friends, Tony Clark, and then Prime Minister Tony Abbott in January and February 2014, Paul commissioned a proposal to create a Centre that would foster a new generation of leaders with a deep knowledge and appreciation of Western civilisation and a desire to defend and promote it.
Three and a half years later, Paul’s dream is becoming reality. On 20 November 2017, former political opponents John Howard and Kim Beazley joined forces with Tony Abbott in Sydney to launch The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. All three men sit on the board of the Centre which will create and fund a new Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation) to be taught in select Australian universities.
In addition to the undergraduate scholarships, the Centre will also offer postgraduate scholarships for studies in Western Civilisation at prestigious international institutions, will conduct summer schools and will sponsor public lectures by outstanding international and Australian speakers reflecting on our civilisation and the great issues confronting Australia and the West.
Speaking about Paul’s vision, Mr Abbott said, “The creation of the Centre is the first step in fulfilling Paul’s wish, who believed very strongly that the Golden Age is before us, not behind us, if we hold on to the values that have made this country great.”
Former Prime Minister John Howard said, “Australia is a magnet to millions of people because it brings together so many of the constituent elements of Western civilisation including political, religious and economic freedom. The new BA in Western Civilisation that the Centre is developing will give students the opportunity to study that extraordinary civilizational heritage.”
“This is not a left or right think tank,” said former deputy Prime Minister Kim Beazley. “The values of freedom, human rights and representative government have their origins in Western civilisation. Yet the historical, philosophical and cultural base of that tradition is of diminishing saliency in our academic institutions. It does not need dominance. It needs a systematic voice.”
The degree will cover the development of Western civilisation, including art, architecture and music, through the study of its great texts, according to the Centre CEO Professor Simon Haines.
The new home of the Centre will be 171-173 Macquarie Street, Sydney, next door to the Australian Club. Originally part of Horbury Terrace, a charming row of late Georgian terrace houses built in 1842, it will now be the Centre’s administrative headquarters and host public events.