The voice of more people: UniSydney consultations start on a Ramsay negotiation

The University of Sydney is preparing for possible negotiations with the Ramsay Centre for the Study of Western Civilisation. Vice Chancellor Michael Spence told staff yesterday that arts faculty dean, Annamarie Jagosse is consulting with staff on a proposed memorandum of understanding the university could put to the Ramsay Centre.

The centre, has (a bundle of) funding to support undergraduate degree teaching western civilisation at a partner university. ANU has already withdrawn from negotiations.

Academics to be involved at UniSydney are in “disciplines most closely associated with the potential programme in western civilisation,” art history, classics and ancient history, English, history and philosophy. Any draft will also go to the faculty board.

This is not an MOU that sets out UniSydney’s terms, rather it prescribes the conditions that Ramsay must accept before the university will engage. “The intention is to support discussion—both dialogic and deliberative—of the principles at the heart of the draft MOU in order to give me feedback prior to my next engagement with the Ramsay Centre,” Dr Spence said yesterday.

This is a carefully constructed move by the VC to keep some control of the process, lest there be a renewal of the previous push by the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union and allies to block Ramsay on campus.

The vice chancellor says the process he has announced, “will allow the document to be ‘tested’ with widening circles of participants, beginning with some from directly relevant disciplinary expertise and ending with people across the university more generally. If the conversation is not structured in some way but all becomes instantly public, we may find that the loudest voices dominate and that we don’t end up with as reflective or inclusive a conversation as we might otherwise have.”


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