Differing views on academic freedom

The Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor of the ANU are out and about today defending their decision to break off negotiations with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. There is a lot in there to discuss but I want to pick up on one point (actually two).

For us, academic freedom doesn’t mean freedom to underperform or to teach without regard to the disciplines or agreed objectives of a particular syllabus.

Indeed. Nor should it. Yet I wonder how many academics at the ANU have ever been sacked for poor performance or not teaching to the syllabus? Surely there would be statistics that can be reported on that matter.

As an aside there is this:

It has been unwilling to accept our draft curriculum and has refused to accept our preferred name for the degree, Western civilisation studies.

Well duh. If the Ransay Centre was comfortable with the existing curriculum they wouldn’t have offered to pay for another curriculum. Wanting the call the program “Western civilisation studies” was just trolling.

This entry was posted in Education. Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to Differing views on academic freedom

  1. stackja

    ANU don’t want truth.

  2. RobK

    The debarcle with Lomborg, Ridd and now this (there maybe others, I dont watch this space closely). Its not a good look for academia or enlightenment.

  3. Roger

    I’ll say it again:

    The Ramsey bequest is $3bn.

    If they can’t establish their own university college they aren’t serious.

    If the terms of the bequest don’t allow this then the entire project has been poorly conceived

    There is no cachet to be had associating with Australian universities.

    Meanwhile, inquiring minds would like to know if the ANU applies historical critical methods of interpretation to the Quran in their Islamic studies program?

  4. Rococo Liberal

    Meanwhile, inquiring minds would like to know if the ANU applies historical critical methods of interpretation to the Quran in their Islamic studies program?

    Why has ANU got an Islamic Studies Program?

  5. Bruce of Newcastle

    We haven’t seen it yet but the closed-shop leftist model of the ANU and other Australian universities will cause a change like the one underway in the media.

    The MSM is likewise aggressively going for a closed-shop. The difference is the universities are publicly funded and the MSM is mostly consumer funded. Half of the electorate are righties. They are now pushing back against the MSM. Righties want truthful news, and entertainment which isn’t leftist propaganda.

    The result has been migration of righties away from the MSM to other platforms like blogs.

    The same will occur in education. Righties are migrating from the Marxist public school system to those private schools which teach rather than indoctrinate, to the International Baccalaureate, and to home schooling.

    In the university system none of this has happened yet. But with the power of the internet it will. When it does the academics, who think academic freedom is the freedom for them to use taxpayers as unwilling victims to pay for their closed-shops, will be confronted by real freedom as students walk away to the online university system to be.

    It can’t happen soon enough.

  6. C.L.

    The Ramsey bequest is $3bn.

    If they can’t establish their own university college they aren’t serious.

    If the terms of the bequest don’t allow this then the entire project has been poorly conceived

    There is no cachet to be had associating with Australian universities.

    Brilliant take, Roger.
    I hadn’t thought of this. You’re absolutely right.
    Involving that weasel Howard was also a huge mistake.

    Set up a new college offering the full suite of relevant subjects.
    God, it’s so obvious.

  7. Roger

    Why has ANU got an Islamic Studies Program?

    Partly because of donations from the UAE, Iran & Turkey.

    The genesis is in their Middle Eastern studies program in the 1980s, which c. 1994 became Arab & Islamic Studies. Given the nature of some of their international donors, the extent of academic freedom granted in the Islamic studies program is a very germane questions.

  8. Roger

    question, singular, that should be..

    Involving that weasel Howard was also a huge mistake.

    He seems to have no idea.

  9. manalive

    “We took our decision for no other reason than the centres continued demands … for essentially ideological reasons, with the very idea of it, we would … then being held hostage to its continuation by a donor whose most senior and influential board members appear to have manifestly different views to ours …”

    Do “we” share the views held by the staff of the Centre for Arab & Islamic Studies which is part of the ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences?
    Not that there is anything wrong with a centre for Arab & Islamic studies etc. but the history of Western civilisation is immeasurably richer than Arab and Islamic, a civilisation that after around the 14th century largely abandoned scholarship outside the confines of religion.

  10. Eddystone

    Evans and Schmidt Biggles and Algy reckon the Ramsay Centre doesn’t trust the ANU to deliver the programme in an acceptable manner. On the other hand, apparently the (un-named) donors to the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies do trust ANU to deliver.

    Quite so.

  11. C.L.

    With $3 BILLION why settle on a crappy “centre for.”
    Go hard or go home.

  12. RobK

    BoN,
    It can’t happen soon enough.
    I think it will ramp up.

  13. C.L.

    I bet that socialist ninny Howard came up with the ANU idea.
    He thought it would be a good idea to save the endowment cash by getting the whole “centre” on the government iron lung.

  14. closeapproximation

    Set up a new college offering the full suite of relevant subjects.
    God, it’s so obvious.

    Nobody would take such a course at a standalone college. There would be zero market for it and would fail. Think about it.

    As for public advocacy, Ramsay Centre is already doing this, presumably.

  15. Genghis

    The Ramsay Centre (It) has been unwilling to accept our draft curriculum and has refused to accept our preferred name for the degree, Western civilisation studies.
    Well so what, it appears you to did not accept anything but your own ideas!

  16. Des Deskperson

    ‘On the other hand, apparently the (un-named) donors to the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies do trust ANU to deliver.’

    According to Brain Schmidt’s statement of 5 June:

    The Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies received one-off donations from the private Al-Maktoum Foundation in Dubai, the Iranian Ministry of Education, and the Turkish Government in 2000-2001

    That the ANU should accept any donation from a totalitarian theocracy with an appalling human rights record is disturbing.

    Schmidt’s statement of 5 June:

    http://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/vcs-update-partnerships-and-donations

    is interesting in that it talks about the ANU having ‘a fundamentally different vision for the program than the Ramsay Centre’, but provides very little detail of what these differences might have been, and has been strongly criticised – see the comments – on that basis. The Evans/Schmidt article of today seems to be a rather tardy attempt to patch up and pad out a justification forth ANU’s decision. Whatever the facts, it’s rather a bad and a clumsy look.

    Sydney University academics were at least honest and up-front: They opposed the “conservative, culturally essentialist, and Eurocentric vision the centre is dedicated to propagating”.

  17. Eddystone

    ANU climate change institute is still pushing the long debunked “hockey stick”.

  18. Cassie of Sydney

    Roger
    #2747254, posted on June 26, 2018 at 10:34 am
    I’ll say it again:

    The Ramsey bequest is $3bn.

    If they can’t establish their own university college they aren’t serious.

    Excellent idea Roger. Given the largely cretinous state of Australian universities, why not.

    The future is on line learning. Also, why limit a prospective Ramsay university to Australian academics and to a degree in western civilization. Whilst incorporating scientists such as Peter Ridd and others who have fallen foul of the Marxist group think, the Ramsay University could also broaden its curriculum to include the following …Bjorn Lomborg (environmental science), Gad Saad (evolutionary biology), Jordan Peterson (Psychology), Eric Weinstein (economics), Brett Weinstein (biology), Stephen Pinker (linguistics) and there are many others.

    This is the future.

  19. max

    There are 43 universities in Australia: 40 public universities, two international universities, and one private university.

    God and Man at Yale The Superstitions of “Academic Freedom.” William F. Buckley
    The book was a frontal assault on the idea of academic freedom as promoted by college faculties: immunity from control by the outside agents who pay the university’s bills.

    “Academic freedom” has a very special meaning: the freedom to teach the subject matter in whatever way the academic in question wishes the subject taught, despite any wishes to the contrary that his employer may harbor. In other words, the employer may not fire the academic as long as he teaches the subject matter in any manner that the academic, not the employer, wishes.
    Now this is a very special, not to say spectacular, doctrine indeed!”

    it’s high time to privates all universities in Australia

  20. Robber Baron

    Howard should engage in battle with the left. He must escalate. Otherwise, he is The Statist we know him to be.

  21. duncanm

    Why has ANU got an Islamic Studies Program?

    Hopefully its ADFA – know your enemy.

    .. but I doubt they’re smart enough to realise that’s what it should be about.

  22. A Lurker

    He who pays the piper, calls the tune. Follow the donation trail to Australian universities such as the ANU and Sydney University you will discover who is calling their tune.

    As for the matter at hand – simply rescind all public money to any Australian university that fails to promote freedom of speech and fails to promote the benefits and accomplishments of Western Civilization.

    Like the ABC, if the Marxists want to continue to use these institutions as their own, then let them cough up the money themselves.

  23. Senile Old Guy

    Nobody would take such a course at a standalone college. There would be zero market for it and would fail. Think about it.

    Establish a reputation and people will pay. There are successful standalone colleges around this country.

  24. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    The genesis is in their Middle Eastern studies program in the 1980s, which c. 1994 became Arab & Islamic Studies. Given the nature of some of their international donors, the extent of academic freedom granted in the Islamic studies program is a very germane questions.

    Can we check their reading lists for any discussion of Robert Spencer’s “Did Muhammad Exist? An Enquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins”, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2012, and beautifully reviewed by Mervyn Bendle in Quadrant, July-August 2012? Both are wonderful examples of claiming the academic freedom to publish in spite of the sorts of threats that such publications may produce and should courageously sit on the reading lists supplied in a social historical critical mode by ANU in
    any rounded Islamic studies program.

    If not, why not? All’s fair with regard to the arguable origins of Christianity and its impact on the West.

  25. Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    The last place you should ever expect DI-versity is in any UNI-versity! Look at the labels!

  26. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    That sounds like a very attractive set of scholars there, Cassie.
    Rather unitary in some ways though. But not a bad thing in the current circumstances. 🙂

    The ancient universities were based on the appeal of their scholars and their scholarship.
    They were places where people could feel more free to think than in the ‘outside’ world.
    Sadly, not so now. They are closed universes, feeding off each other.
    Luckily, there are still a few brave souls within them, willing to challenge received wisdoms, to get the bright ideas and then do the hard research legwork and then insist their voices be heard. Outside the no-go fields of climate change and standing up for what are broadly known as ‘the West’ and ‘Enlightenment values’, fields which are padlocked against challenges, some good things are still being done. It is a pity that Vice Chancellors have drunk the Cool-Aid on the no-goes and have allowed relevant faculties to become hotbeds of incestuous thought which then infects other areas without any alternatives being put for consideration.

  27. Des Deskperson

    Whatever scruples ANU VC Brian Schmidt might have about the Ramsay Centre, he has no problem at all getting into bed with Canberra’s powerful developer lobby and its allies the Barr government and – in al probability – the CFMMEU to ‘commercialise’ the old ANU Union Court, formerly a large open area where students could hang out. According to the Canberra Times:

    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/act/a-bit-grand-designs-on-site-at-the-anu-s-new-260-million-precinct-20180611-p4zkte.html

    ‘The newly named Kambri precinct will soon be “bustling” hub in Canberra’s CBD, Professor Schmidt said, boasting a cinema, theatre, health and wellness centre and teaching spaces as well as 45 shops.

    A “Melbourne style” laneway and “intimate piazza” will offer outdoor dining, and there really will be a swimming pool, measuring 25 metres, as well as a sprawling underground car park with about 400 spaces.’

    There are considerable doubts among ANU people about the viability of this project and about the commercialisation of a former public space – there were cheers earlier this year from these people when the area flooded. This may be just NIMBYism and the project may have a sound basis. but one of the main beneficiaries will almost certainly be the CFMMEU.

  28. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Wanting the call the program “Western civilisation studies” was just trolling.

    Yep. It’s denying that there is a substantive area of study that deserves the term of Western Civilization. The area must be ‘problematized’ by the ‘studies’ label and thus open to a post-modernist critique which would form the backbone of the course, suggesting that western civilization was a racist, homophobic, gendered, imperialist construct that should be deconstructed into nothingness. You can see the course outlines now that would come from that!!

    There would be no room for studying the historical growth of the socio-religious and political institutions and concept of the individual that arose predominantly in the West as a result of thought and ideas introduced during the period of the Greek city states. Let alone any tracing of the development of these nascent ideas from the period of the Roman Empire to the flowering of European ideas and consciousness in all that followed; the great art and politico-legal systems that define us today. Far too ‘received’ for these purveyors of ‘received’ neo-Marxism.

  29. ArthurB

    Lizzie (#2747371): I would also like to know whether the two following books will be on ANU’s list of recommended reading:

    Emmet Scott, Mohammed & Charlemagne revisited: the history of a controversy

    Dario Fernandez-Morera, The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain

    I have read both books, and find them fascinating. I note that I have never seen reviews of either book in the mainstream media in Australia, or on the ABC, I wonder why?

  30. Ubique

    The Ramsay Centre funding shouldn’t be used to set up a standalone college. Rather it should be used to leverage a much larger investment in a new University in partnership with a conservative US university such as Texas A&M University.

  31. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Any university of any stature that put the course on would probably do very well from online enrolments. This is the sort of thing that many people (especially retired people) are looking to do to round off their intellectual development. It would also provide an excellent alternative to some of the dross offered in Arts Faculties today. So put it to the University of Tasmania, a traditionally-styled university, where the Vice Chancellor may not be such a wimp, and then offer it online to the world via Open University.

  32. NB

    Here is how Victor Davis Hanson of Stanford thinks it will work out for universities in the US:
    http://victorhanson.com/wordpress/victor-davis-hanson-on-the-fate-of-the-west-trump-and-the-resistance/
    In summary – the internet and tech schools provide alternatives. Universities are committing suicide, and donors will walk away.
    As an aside, it is useful in this context to note that Professor Corey Bradshaw of Flinders University, Australia, and Professor Richard Parncutt (an Australian), of the University of Graz, Austria have both called for people who question the global warming orthodoxy to be executed. This is not a good strategy for enhancing the reputation of their universities.
    http://joannenova.com.au/2015/01/climate-grief-believers-mourning-its-denial-and-anger-but-it-sure-isnt-science/
    http://joannenova.com.au/2012/12/death-threats-anyone-austrian-prof-global-warming-deniers-should-be-sentenced-to-death/
    Of course, James Cook University has disgraced itself by getting rid of Professor Peter Ridd for questioning the orthodoxy on the barrier reef.
    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/marine-science-rebel-peter-ridd-sacked-by-james-cook-university/news-story/805ecb22cee6b4d34c5634799c1d5936

  33. The Ramsay Centre funding shouldn’t be used to set up a standalone college. Rather it should be used to leverage a much larger investment in a new University in partnership with a conservative US university such as Texas A&M University.

    Ubique, I think either of those ideas works for me.

  34. Bruce of Newcastle
    #2747260, posted on June 26, 2018 at 10:45 am

    In other words conservatives will pay for private education for their kids whilst also funding the Marxist educational institutions through their taxes.

    Kind of like how we pay for the ABC for them and also pay for the few remaining conservative media outlets.

    And how we pay for our “private” health insurance whilst paying the bills of every single layabout and degenerate.

    Another winning strategy there. I’m sure the left will be utterly distraught that we’re paying for them AND surrendering the institutions at the same time. Not to mention that it can all be turned around overnight via the stroke of a pen which legislates that only state approved educational qualifications are recognised – we already partially have this via occupational licensing.

  35. Dr Fred Lenin

    We will never get rid of the gangrene globalist u.n,communist fascist scum as long s the taxpayer keeps funding them ,without taxpayer funding all these brilliant intellectuals would die of starvation , I mean who would employ them ? Centrelink would be chocka with unemployable tertiay educated drones ,hopefully many would emigrate to Venezuela,Zimbabwe,Cuba ,that is of course if those shitheaps would have them , North Korea would be on the outer too much Trump influence there ,the Chinese certainly wouldn’t have them ,the Chinese welfare system goes ,no work no rice ,no rice no eat ,no eat you die , straight and to the point , no virtue seeking there .

  36. manalive

    According to Abdul Rashied Omar, the majority of modern Islamic jurists continue to regard apostasy as a crime deserving the death penalty … (Wiki).

    Aquinas 1225 – 1274 considered one of the Catholic Church’s greatest theologians and philosophers thought along similar lines writing that heretics be “severed from the world by death”.
    It were not for the European Renaissance with Humanist philosophers like Petrarch and Erasmus, Luther and the Reformation (the Counter-Reformation and Inquisition not withstanding) and above all the Age of Enlightenment the West would have also stagnated in authoritarian-imposed ignorance.

  37. Roger

    I bet that socialist ninny Howard came up with the ANU idea. He thought it would be a good idea to save the endowment cash by getting the whole “centre” on the government iron lung.

    The word is Howard is shopping the idea around universities because he thinks there’s cachet to be had for both parties.

    If true he’s woefully ill informed about the state of Australian universities and shows a poor grasp of the possibilities Paul Ramsay’s generosity has bequeathed to his Foundation.

  38. manalive, seriously? Have you read a history book published in the last 100 years?

  39. Roger

    Nobody would take such a course at a standalone college. There would be zero market for it and would fail. Think about it.

    If you had the right faculty, including visiting lecturers, people would come from here and overseas to study there. There are also various universities, colleges and institutes in the US & Europe that could become associates.

  40. JohnA

    C.L.
    #2747262, posted on June 26, 2018 at 10:48 am

    The Ramsey bequest is $3bn.

    If they can’t establish their own university college they aren’t serious.

    If the terms of the bequest don’t allow this then the entire project has been poorly conceived

    There is no cachet to be had associating with Australian universities.

    Brilliant take, Roger.
    I hadn’t thought of this. You’re absolutely right.
    Involving that weasel Howard was also a huge mistake.

    Set up a new college offering the full suite of relevant subjects.
    God, it’s so obvious.

    Could there be method in this apparent madness?

    Recalling the strategy of Paul the Apostle who went first to the Jewish synagogues with the radical new teaching called “The Way” then, when rejected there, went independent…

    I could infer that this very public approach to, followed by [predictable] rejection by, the ossified sandstone establishment, could be a means of exposing the bankrupt thinking of the “old way” before independently setting up the “new way.”

    But then, I am just a boring accountant without much of an idea about strategy…
    🙂

  41. Peter Campion

    My regional daily newspaper printed this from me yesterday, in response to our only conservative journo’s op-ed the previous Thursday…

    The Editor

    Thank goodness for Julian Tomlinson (21/6); this newspaper’s voice of reason.

    Here’s what our unis and ABC are doing wrong: overly simplistic theories; over-reliance on computer models; excessive self-confidence and self-promotion; excessive confidence in peers; circular groupthink; political advocacy and activism; enforcement of consensuses; and stifling debate and shouting down critics.

    Here’s what they’re getting wrong: global warming/climate change; immigration and border security; Western values; government debt and its effects; regulatory impacts on industries; mining (inc. coal); electricity markets; coal-fired energy; nuclear energy; hydro dams; political correctness; political-corporate (inc. union) cronyism; foreign-funded lobbyists; the housing Ponzi; militant misandrist feminism; and the Gramscian left’s long march through our institutions.

    Here’s some negative effects of that: divisions in society; reductions in general civility and personal safety; breakdowns in checks and balances; struggling economies; wasted resources and opportunities; and squandered national wealth.

    Here’s how to begin fixing them; end taxpayer funding now.

    (150 words)
    Peter Campion

  42. Gary

    I’m not Uni educated but I mind doing my bit so I don’t have my dongle cut off undergoing surgery because I’m a member of the patriarchy. It would be nice not to drive over a bridge held together with string because nuts n bolts are heteronormative. And nonbinary mathematics isn’t going to me far when I fly.

  43. Confused Old Misfit

    And nonbinary mathematics isn’t going to me far when I fly.

    You’re quite right! It’s Bernoulli and Venturi you need to keep you up there and moving forward!

  44. Confused Old Misfit

    Bernoulli and Venturi

    Meant to add that they are dead white men and therefore their laws can discounted by progressives who pledge to remain on the earth’s surface.

  45. Davo

    Bugger the established campuses. They should set up their own on-line school of something like the University of Chicago’s great books program.

    https://grahamschool.uchicago.edu/academic-programs/liberal-arts/basic-program/online-courses

  46. Adrien

    Baroque Arrister-

    Why has ANU got an Islamic Studies Program?

    Various reaons I suppose Rococco. Many of which you may disregard as is your entitlement but one solid one might have something to do with those reasons Condaleeza Rice learned about Russia.

  47. A

    Baroque Barrister. Sorry. Sticky keyboard.

  48. BorisG

    Adrien. Where have you been?

  49. BorisG

    I always wondered why on earth a novel laureate would want to be a VC. Such a thankless job.

    ANU is an excellent university in hard sciences but beyond that it is questionable.

  50. Adrien

    Adrien. Where have you been?

    In Fremantle painting pictures old bean. Art is entirely apolitical so I’m not aware of much that doesn’t happen on my facebook feed. Apparently a baboon copulated with an orangutan and the result sits in the Oval Office these days. 🙂

  51. BorisG

    Hey still a bit cryptic as usual.

  52. Adrien

    Actually not so much. I’m an artist I live in Freo.

  53. Adrien

    Actually you live in WA don’t you Boris? Or used to. I still owe your standing you up at the OZ Open all those years ago. 🙂

  54. Adrien

    Lizzie –

    Yep. It’s denying that there is a substantive area of study that deserves the term of Western Civilization.

    How exactly can calling a field Western Civ Studies do that?

    There would be no room for studying… the period of the Greek city states. Let alone any tracing of the development of these nascent ideas from the period of the Roman Empire to the flowering of…

    But there is such: http://cass.anu.edu.au/degrees/bachelor-classical-studies

    There’s also the political science degree which says you should enrol on account of it’s ” the only degree of its type in Australia offering unparalleled access and connections to the political heartbeat of the nation”

    That is you’ll get a job. Not so much neo-Marxist as Neo-Machievellian.

    The area must be ‘problematized’ by the ‘studies’ label and thus open to a post-modernist critique

    That would be the BachPhil. Let the market sort it out. Postmodernism is so boring it’d die a natral death if Andrew Bolt could just find a constructive hobbie.

  55. Yep. It’s denying that there is a substantive area of study that deserves the term of Western Civilization.

    That is a good thing. We don’t need another made-up field that has ‘studies’ attached to it. That is why Roger’s idea is the best.

  56. old bloke

    Roger
    #2747254, posted on June 26, 2018 at 10:34 am

    Meanwhile, inquiring minds would like to know if the ANU applies historical critical methods of interpretation to the Quran in their Islamic studies program?

    Of course not, the students are taught a syrupy version of Islam. Hugh Fitzgerald highlighted what is taught, and what is excluded, in Middle Eastern study programs in western universities a few years ago, that’s available here at the New English Review.

  57. Adrien

    Okay I’ll play.

    We don’t need another made-up field

    Yes Dover we need all of the good solid educational courses that descended to us from Heaven along with the twin tablets and the Consta’too’shun!!! Good thangs that Jay-sus gave us not those areas of study or (Heaven forbid) ‘studies’ that humans came up with themselves.

    that has ‘studies’ attached to it.

    Yep if something has the word ‘studies ‘ attached to it it’s a neo-femmoo-marxian poufter plot innit! If yer studyin’ boy you must be some kind o’ pinko.

    That is why Roger’s.. the best.

    Please see a psychologist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.