Is there still hope left for the West’s universities? Probably not, to be honest. Some are giving it the ol’ college try (pun intended) of course: New College of Florida, a public liberal arts college in Sarasota, has just abolished its Gender Studies department. Provoking the predictable howling fury of leftist academics (my apologies for the tautology), naturally.
But has the cancer simply spread too far to be cut out? Maybe it’s time to put the universities out of their misery.
Amongst the post-modern rot that infests most of our universities’ humanities faculties stands one small institution that proudly focuses on the origins and brilliance of our Western Civilisation. This institution is growing (officially opening new buildings last week), has heavy-weight support, and is getting outstanding student feedback. Could it serve as the beacon for others to follow, and in doing so, be an important pushback against the intellectual war on the West?
My hope is that the answer is yes. Such a pushback is desperately needed in Australia, particularly in academia, which I will explain.
The institution in question is Campion College, near Paramatta in Western Sydney. It was established in 2006 as Australia’s first liberal arts college.
“Liberal arts” has gotten a bad rap in recent years, mostly because its meaning has been deliberately obfuscated. Too many people hear the words “liberal arts” and immediately conjure images of pink-haired land-whales teaching “feminist dance theory”. In fact, a liberal arts education is what was once recognised as the standard schooling of any well-educated person.
Per Wikipedia: A liberal arts college or liberal arts institution of higher education is a college with an emphasis on undergraduate study in liberal arts and general sciences. Such colleges aim to impart a broad general knowledge and develop general intellectual capacities, in contrast to a professional or vocational curriculum. Students in a liberal arts college generally major in a particular discipline while receiving exposure to a wide range of academic subjects, including general sciences as well as the traditional humanities subjects taught as liberal arts.
In other words, what was once called a “classical education”.
Campion […] has graduated hundreds of students. It dedicates itself to immersing students in the great books and figures that underpin our modern culture, in the correct belief that such immersion is important for individual development, and vital for the continuation of a society that is amongst the most wealthy, tolerant, and free of any society in all of human history.
Students in their three-year degree follow a linear progression starting first in the ancient world, then the medieval, and finally the modern world in third year. Philosophy, history, literature, and theology are interwoven into a coherent picture of the West’s development and the greatest thinkers who influenced it.
Compared to the near-constant barrage of Marxist gobbledegook I had to inure myself against in my own university days, I would think I’d died and gone to academic heaven, at such a place.
Sound radical? Of course not, but unfortunately such an approach is radical in today’s higher education landscape. Much of what is taught in humanities faculties either ignores the development of Western ideas and societies or is markedly hostile to them. It is particularly anti-Christian, which is intricately tied to Western development.
The Institute for Public Affairs conducted an analysis of university history courses in Australian universities.
It found that more history subjects taught about race, than democracy. More taught about ‘identity’ than enlightenment. A full 255 of the 791 subjects were expressly focused on identity politics. That is class, race, or gender.
I am not aware of analyses of other disciplines in the humanities faculties, but I would be surprised if there were not similar findings.
When I was wrapping up my Journalism major, one of the few options remaining was a unit called, “Gender, Race & Journalism”. I can’t recall what I took instead: all I knew is that I’d rather eat my own poo than subject myself to such a unit of study.
The same trend has occurred in school curriculum. When, as Education Minister, I first examined the new draft national curriculum in 2021, I was astounded that there was almost nothing positive said about modern Australia and almost nothing negative about ancient Australia before Europeans arrived.
The forgetting (or loathing) of our history is undoubtedly already having an impact on the confidence that people have in our society today and in the future.
Why do you think so many students emerge from high schools and universities convinced that socialism has never actually been tried, and will work “this time”? Or that slavery was invented in America (an astonishing number of students actually believe this). As one American professor observes, students today, “come to college preprogrammed in certain ways”’
“They cannot tell you many historical facts or relate anything meaningful about historical biographies, but they are, however, stridently vocal about the corrupt nature of the Republic, about the wickedness of the founding fathers, and about the evils of free markets […] Most alarmingly, they know nothing about the fraught history of Marxist ideology and communist governments over the last century, but often reductively define socialism as ‘fairness.’”
Even more alarming, in a truly Orwellian twist, these students tacitly believe that “Ignorance is Strength”.
He increasingly saw “a sense of moral superiority in not knowing anything about our ‘racist and sexist’ history and our ‘biased’ institutions.”
If our schools and universities are not teaching the origins and demonstrable benefits of our modern Western society (or are being explicitly hostile to it), then where will we be in 20 years when another generation has been ‘educated’ in these institutions?
A whole twenty years? He’s quite the optimist. At the rate we’re going, Western civilisation will have been completely eaten out from within before the decade’s out.
Like the Dark Ages of the past, independent institutions like Campion College will be the few bastions of genuine learning in a wilderness of ignorant barbarism.
Lushington describes himself as Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. This article was first published HERE