Liberal Arts alive and well
At the conclusion of the Universities Australia Conference held in Canberra on 2-3 March, a vigorous ‘Town Hall’ meeting made the claim that Australia had no Liberal Arts colleges.
|The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, with President of Campion College, Dr David Daintree. |
Chairing the meeting, Prof Ian Robson (Vice-Chancellor, University of Western Australia) lamented the ‘lack of diversity’ in Australian higher education and in particular claimed that no ‘liberal arts college’ existed in Australia.
This was not questioned by the university sector participants with the exception of Emeritus Professor Denise Bradley (Chair of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency), who exhorted the participants to look beyond universities to the 150 private providers that do provide diversity.
The notion that Australia has no Liberal Arts colleges has vigorously denied by Dr David Daintree, President of Campion College - Australia's first and only Liberal Arts College, located in Old Toongabbie in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta.
"Campion College has been offering a BA in the Liberal Arts since 2006," Dr Daintree said.
"Our primary purpose, in contrast to the prevailing trend, is to prepare students for life rather than for a specific job, to teach students to think and communicate, to build a balanced and integrated understanding of human culture and history.
"We may be Australia’s only liberal arts college at present, but I believe that others will follow as the mood changes and people recognise what we have lost by too much specialisation too soon.
"As Professor Bradley has pointed out, perhaps diversity will flourish best in the private sector. If the void is not filled by universities, then it is likely that more colleges like Campion will emerge."
The Campion BA degree is based on four 'core' subjects, Literature, History, Philosophy and Theology. Teaching is integrated horizontally and vertically with a strong emphasis on cross-disciplinary connections.
Campion graduates have already gone on to professional studies in Law, Medicine, Education, Business as well as research degrees at other institutions.Campion expects to introduce a course-work MA by distance learning from 2012.
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