11 December 2000

The University of Queensland's TC Beirne School of Law is one of a handful of schools worldwide to receive a prestigious grant for courses exploring freedom.

Associate Professor Suri Ratnapala and tutorial assistant Vanita Karean received an Atlas Economic Research Foundation and John Templeton Foundation grant of US$20,000 ($36,000) to conduct a Templeton Seminar on Advanced Constitutional Law for final-year Bachelor of Laws (LLB), Juris Doctor (JD) and Master of Applied Law students in 2001.

Dr Ratnapala developed the elective course, also available to senior undergraduate and graduate students in non-legal disciplines, as part of his research for the Centre for the Legal and Economic Study of Institutions (CLESI).

"The course provides undergraduate and postgraduates with a deeper understanding of the ideas associated with constitutionalism-the ways these ideas are expressed in different models and the fundamental connections among constitutions, law, justice, human freedom and the moral and economic well-being of communities throughout the world," he said.

"There is a strong connection between the prevalence of constitutional government, human freedom and economic prosperity in the world. Students of the course will be equipped with the theoretical and methodological tools to examine this connection with their final task being to present major research papers focused on global case studies."

The two Foundations recently awarded US$350,000 to 33 academics at 15 schools as part of the International Freedom Project which assists university professors outside North America to develop semester-long interdisciplinary university courses exploring the idea of freedom.

The Project, an international higher education initiative of the John Templeton Foundation-encouraging the study of freedom and free, fair and open competition as a basic recipe for success in culture, politics and economic life-is administered by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.

This Foundation works with think-tanks and individuals around the world to advance a vision of a society of free and responsible individuals based upon private property rights, limited government under the rule of law and market order.

The University of Queensland and the University of Asia and the Pacific in The Philippines were the only Asian-Pacific universities selected for the grants.

The courses were judged by a panel of international scholars "on the basis of uniqueness, innovation and interdisciplinarity; the expression of the complexity of freedom in the future of human goals and development; and the balance of political, economic and social theory with accessible data and quantified sources".

For more information, contact Associate Professor Suri Ratnapala (telephone 07 3365 2460) or Shirley Glaister at UQ Communications (telephone 07 3365 2339).