Recent graduates of the University of Sydney have expressed a concern that has drawn the attention of educators there to the Center’s Life Worth Living program.
“Surveys of recent graduates from the University sometimes mention that students never get the chance to reflect on life’s big questions,” commented Peter R. Anstey, ARC Future Fellow and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney. “We believe that there is an expectation that a University education will provide such an opportunity.”
Dr. Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, approached Anstey to develop a program modeled on the Yale course as a step toward fulfilling this expressed need.
What came of the initiative was an open lecture course available to the whole community of the University of Sydney. The course drew a total of 306 students, faculty and staff to its lectures last August and September.
The initial six-week course covered four major religious and philosophical traditions—Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Utilitarianism & Virtue Ethics—and featured both in-person and online panel discussions to foster and encourage normative reflection on life’s big questions. Recordings and videos of the lectures were made available to the wider university community.
The course received very positive feedback. One attendee commented, “I loved it so much I wish it ran for longer…let’s do it all again with 20 lectures. Or more! Thank you for running such a stimulating course.”
Following from this initial success, the University is planning to run an expanded version of the course in 2016. The new course will cover more traditions and encourage new channels for discussion and engagement. This iteration will be open to the alumni community as well.
Anstey has great hopes for the development of the course over the next several years, believing the course “will make a real contribution to the overall wellbeing of the University community.”