Sign the statement of solidarity with University of Sydney staff here.
Our employer, the University of Sydney, Australia, is currently in negotiations with The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation to fund a dedicated undergraduate program in ‘Western Civilisation’, understood in a narrow and Anglocentric way, to be taught to a cohort of students who will enjoy scholarships and learning conditions far superior to those available in other programs. Two former conversative Prime Ministers of Australia, John Howard and Tony Abbott, sit on the Centre’s Board of Directors, and Abbott has made controversial public statements about the explicitly pro-Western outlook that informs the Centre’s pedagogy. The Ramsay Centre’s CEO, Simon Haines, has also stated that the Centre would be unwilling to support the appointment of academics to teach the Western Civilisation program whose views were not in conformity with the Centre’s philosophy. One of Australia’s leading universities, the Australian National University, withdrew from negotiations with the Ramsay Centre when it became clear that the Centre would attempt to interfere with the University’s independence by vetting classroom teaching. Despite these warning signs, the University of Sydney has drawn up a draft Memorandum of Understanding with the Ramsay Centre. The University’s decision to engage with the Ramsay Centre is the subject of growing staff protest, and significant press coverage. Faculty have not yet been given full access to the draft MoU, but Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence has signalled his intention to pursue negotiations with the Centre whether or not the venture enjoys our support. For this reason we are now calling on University of Sydney alumni, and academic colleagues in Australia and around the world, to support our campaign. We ask you to stand in solidarity with University of Sydney staff and all those who value academic freedom, intellectual pluralism and cultural diversity, in protesting the University’s moves to enter into a partnership with the Ramsay Centre.