Sydney University academics will enlist the support of immigrant communities, overseas colleagues and students in their fight against a Ramsay Centre proposal for a degree in western civilisation.
A draft of the university's memorandum of understanding with the centre, which would set the terms of a negotiation over curriculum, is likely to be presented to a meeting of the arts faculty board on Monday.
Vice chancellor Michael Spence has pledged to release the MOU for wider debate before it is presented to the Ramsay board, which includes former prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott.
Academics opposed to the proposal met on Thursday to discuss their strategy, which will include a major public meeting.
"We are discussing publicising this issue as widely as possible, and soliciting support from Australia's immigrant communities who will likely feel slighted by a decision to grant special status to western civilisation at one of Australia's leading universities," said David Brophy, a senior lecturer in history.
"We will be talking to colleagues internationally who are seeing similar efforts to recentre the curriculum around notions of western superiority.
"There are also many students here who are justifiably anxious about the Ramsay Centre's mission. We anticipate that students will have a presence outside the faculty board meeting, and will continue their campaign beyond."
The Australian National University pulled out of talks with the centre - funded by a bequest from late healthcare billionaire Paul Ramsay - earlier this year, due to concerns the centre's requirements impinged on its academic freedom.
Lily Campbell, education officer on Sydney's Student Representative Council, said the SRC would oppose the MOU regardless of what it said. "We have to maintain a position that any donation from the Ramsay Centre can't be free from academic bias."
Ramsay chief executive Simon Haines has maintained the centre had no desire to impinge on academic freedom.
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Jordan Baker is Education Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald