03 October 2017Share
A message from the Pro Vice-Chancellor Assisting the Vice-Chancellor and President and Professor of Catholic Philosophy, Professor Hayden Ramsay: My first contact with ACU was giving a guest lecture to nursing students at Ascot Vale shortly after arriving in Australia from Scotland in the mid-‘90s.
I knew ACU’s Victorian campuses well. After teaching philosophy at the University of Melbourne and then at La Trobe I joined the Catholic system, including Catholic Theological College Melbourne, John Paul II Institute, Catholic Institute of Sydney and most recently Notre Dame Sydney. I am absolutely delighted to be here now at ACU.
My role has three main responsibilities: first, to assist the Vice-Chancellor with a number of strategic initiatives; secondly, to contribute to the work of the PM Glynn Institute; and thirdly, to build on the efforts of others in promoting and communicating the Catholic intellectual tradition inside and outside ACU.
Vice-Chancellors are very busy people and I expect to be kept well occupied in that part of my role. P M Glynn has already made a fantastic start and I look forward to involvement in its development. The promotion of Catholic intellectual life begins with learning what is already happening at ACU and then adding what I can.
There is extraordinary potential in the intellectual tradition practised in the great Catholic universities. The tradition returns constantly to two fundamental ideas that have affected world history beyond their immediate relevance to faith: the Catholic understanding of God and of the human person. These ideas are intricately connected: where one advances the other tends to advance also.
Catholic universities build expertise around the human capacity for flourishing—for being deeply and lastingly happy. We flourish as people by developing in a handful of areas that are common to humanity—social life, bodily life, work life, spiritual life and so on. Key to remaining active in any of these areas is excellent intellectual activity—the life of the mind—since thinking is at the bottom of every good thing that we do. We don’t live well un-thinkingly.
Catholicism takes the life of the mind seriously. As well as its superb contributions to social justice, the moral life, art and culture, civil life, health and education the Church also has a rich intellectual tradition to offer.
What if I am not a Catholic? You don’t have to have Catholic faith to find material you can learn from—and contribute towards—in Catholic traditions (whether intellectual, social, moral, cultural…). Australia’s Catholic system includes many staff from other traditions who generously show their respect for their institution’s Catholic faith and proudly share in this work and common life.
What material might people find interesting from the Catholic intellectual tradition? Ten quick thoughts.
My office is next door to my friend Fr Anthony, the Vice President, In North Sydney. I am always ready for a chat about topics in Catholic philosophical tradition and keen to have involvement in any area that invites me.