Campion College was featured in an article in this month’s issue of the Aurora Magazine that discussed the liberal arts.
Campion College is Australia’s first liberal arts tertiary institution. With an ever-growing student body, Campion has been providing quality higher education to both undergraduates and postgraduates since 2006. The school was established after its founders identified a niche in the Australian higher education system that remained unfilled.
The goal of the article’s writer, Darrell Croker, was to examine the establishment of liberal arts colleges from their formative years in the United States. In addition, he explored their progression into present-day centres of learning at how Campion’s origins can be traced back to the roots. These roots grew from the seeds of the examples set by American pioneers to create a unique Australian institution.
Mr Croker notes that while modern curriculums in the liberal arts feature more subjects, they continue to maintain the primary goals which universities established in the medieval period. Specifically, those aims of creating well-rounded individuals who exhibit proficiency in various transferrable skills, backed up by considerable general knowledge in diverse subjects.
When expounding on the college’s relation to its American counterparts, Mr Croker noted that Campion College, located in the Sydney suburb of Toongabbie, claims the title of Australia’s first liberal arts institution. Therefore, it joins the ranks of similar yet older and more established American and continental European education centres worldwide.
Dr Paul Morrissey, president of Campion, was interviewed to provide deeper insight into the college’s approach. He explained that the degree offered by the institution is geared toward providing students with a foundational education where the instruction in four core disciplines -namely literature, philosophy, history and theology- also fosters their lessons in thinking critically about the world.
Dr Morrissey said that one of the primary benefits students gain from completing a degree in the liberal arts is the development of ‘soft skills ‘. These abilities are often described as a combination of social attitudes, personality traits, and behaviours related to your professional habits and interpersonal interaction. Therefore, students who spend time at Campion walk away with such soft skills as effective communication, enhanced literacy and better critical thinking abilities, all highly sought-after traits in the business environment.
Mr Croker then compared the course offerings in liberal arts colleges and the more prevalent STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) institutions. He noted that the two types of education centres are more complementary than competitive, acknowledging that businesses prefer to take on workers who have the self-motivation and critical thinking skills gained in one school to shore up the technical and technological abilities acquired from the other. In this regard, Campion students gain enough valuable know-how to anchor their future career plans.
Another point of interest was the moment Campion was mentioned in the news when it was listed as a candidate to host the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, a display of the college’s prominence despite being still a young institution. When questioned about his view on this development, Dr Morrissey acknowledged that The Ramsay Centre’s goals seem to be aligned with Campion’s concerns about preserving and transmitting Western literature and history. In addition, he stated that critical thinking, a vital component of any liberal arts degree, is needed to examine Western civilisation to benefit from the lessons learned.
When talking about the distinguished history of the American liberal arts colleges, Dr Morrissey expressed where he felt his institution stands by acknowledging that Campion’s efforts to introduce Australians to a liberal arts degree program have led them into unchartered waters. However, he is confident that the college’s path is vital for preserving Western culture and heritage, particularly when present political sentiments seem to lean more toward attacking than appreciating the past.