Centre for the Study of the Western Tradition

“In order to have possession of the truth at all, we must have the whole truth; and no one science, no two sciences, no one family of sciences, nay, not even secular science, is the whole truth.”
– John Henry Newman


The Centre for the Study of the Western Tradition seeks to encourage critical reflection and research on the history, literature, languages, philosophy and theology that characterise Western civilisation and culture, in order to raise the profile of these vital disciplines in Australian tertiary education. These integrated humane studies evolved from the classical and medieval Liberal Arts, including European, Græco-Roman, Byzantine and Near Eastern traditions. They remain an essential key to a rich understanding of Australian culture and society, including our ideals of democracy, our Enlightenment heritage, our Christian-oriented past, our multi-cultural identity, and the classical underpinnings of our education.

During the past generation the epicentre of Australian academic interest has shifted very distinctly towards Asian and Indigenous studies. The Centre fully recognises the rightness and appropriateness of that, given Australia’s geographical placement in the world, but insists on the need to affirm the equal importance of the traditional humanities within the ecology of our nation’s collective intelligence.

By adopting a broad scope, the Centre avoids the trappings of focusing too narrowly on the methods and ideals of one discipline. Instead, it aims to draw attention to the inter-disciplinary foundations of scientia, i.e. the knowledge that we seek in our interaction with the world and in the canons of Western tradition which are promoted in all branches of scholarship.

“Bernard of Chartres used to say that we are like dwarves sitting on the shoulders of giants, for we see more and farther than they, not by the sharpness of our own eyesight or the loftiness of our bodies, but because we are raised up and lifted on high by their colossal greatness.” – John of Salisbury

Research Strands/Themes

  • Christianity in Australia
  • The Emergence of the Medieval World View through the Scholarly Examination of Primary Sources in the Original Language
  • Liberal Education in the Twenty-First Century
  • The Development of European Scientific Thought
  • The Conceptualisation of Democracy and Freedom in the West


  • To articulate and promote the teaching of the liberal arts
  • To explore the origins and formation of the Christian canon, including the writings of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages that contributed to Christian thought
  • To promote and undertake research into Western civilisation and its history by drawing on the tradition of great books
  • To contribute to the intellectual life of Campion College and its diocese
  • To foster inter-disciplinary teaching, discussion and research


The Centre will stage yearly conferences on topics related to its central research themes, a seminar series, and student symposia.

For more information, please contact Dr. Colin Dray at c.dray@campion.edu.au, or Dr. Amitavo Islam at a.islam@campion.edu.au