ACU launches Master of Liberal Arts

Australian Catholic University

ACU has launched a Master of Liberal Arts (Western Civilisation) in partnership with the Ramsay Centre.

The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation will fund up to ten scholarships each year in the Masters program, worth up to $48,000 over 1.5 years.

Centred on a ‘great books’ approach to the study of the intellectual and cultural inheritance of Western civilisation, the Master of Liberal Arts is designed to give students a grounding in the literature, music, philosophy and works of art that have achieved the status of ‘classics’ within the Western world.

Course coordinator Associate Professor Johanna Harris said the degree was the first of its kind in Australia.

 Johanna Harris

“It’s a rare gem in the Australian educational landscape,” she said.

“We offer humanities degrees in the liberal arts tradition centred on the great works of Western intellectual traditions and cultures from antiquity to the present.

“Students get the chance to study the classics of literature, history, philosophy and art – works that have endured because they still have something to teach us, even after hundreds or thousands of years.”

Assoc. Prof. Harris said the degree offered students the chance to come together for an open exchange of ideas.

“The course is taught by world-class academics with wide-ranging interdisciplinary expertise,” Assoc. Prof. Harris said.

“The small group seminar setting gives students the opportunity to participate actively in discussions and allows for the open exchange of ideas, values and beliefs.”

 Simeon Casey

Simeon Casey is one of the first cohort in the Master of Liberal Arts program and said it was the opportunity of a lifetime.

“I desire exposure to all the thought and imagination that lies in the great books of Western Civilisation because so many images are contained within them that say something about what life is, about what is true and what is beautiful,” he said.

“As I progressed through my Bachelor degree I came to appreciate more and more the process of ‘slow reading’,” he said.

“I enjoyed looking at great books for an extended period and wrestling with the complexities they contain.

“A degree like this is key to understanding so much more of what it means to be human and how to live my life.

“I hoped the Master of Liberal Arts at ACU would offer me an opportunity to delve into literature and philosophy under the guidance of teachers who have immersed themselves for years in great books. In only the first week of classes I have been more than confirmed in this hope.”

Simeon said he was grateful to receive a generous scholarship from the Ramsay Centre.

“I no longer have to work full time and juggle university, I’m so grateful I can really commit to the study set before me.”

Ramsay Centre Academic Director Professor Diana Glenn said the degree was the first Master’s level course the Centre has supported in Australia; part of a deliberate decision to expand the potential reach of the Centre’s immensely popular Western Civilisation courses to a broader audience.

“We wanted to ensure that Australians already in established careers and in the workforce could also access this remarkable education,” Professor Glenn said.

“The Great Books have so much to teach us at all life stages and the critical thinking skills acquired through their study, as well as the creativity they inspire will be an asset in the future careers of those who study them at the Master’s level.”

“ACU’s exceptional curriculum encourages students to take a deep dive into fundamental and universal questions that have exercised the human mind and spirit for millennia. The course is already attracting professionals in the workforce who are drawn to the prospect of a stimulating engagement with the interdisciplinary readings on offer.”

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