Students from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) graduating with Masters degrees in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology appeared to receive a royal seal of approval when His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales turned up to congratulate them on their graduation day.
“It was an immense honour to meet Prince Charles and to present our graduates to him,” said Dr. Nick Campion, a senior lecturer in the School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology and Director of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture.
Prince Charles visited the University’s Lampeter campus to take part in a special University ceremony celebrating the Prince’s commitment to sustainability and harmony. Following the ceremony, the Prince was introduced to Campion and met with the students.
That His Royal Highness would use the occasion to meet with students whose academic interests challenge mainstream establishment views and values is not surprising. For decades the Prince of Wales has been a staunch supporter of homeopathic medicine and other complimentary approaches to health and wellbeing.
Apparently, the fact that the astrology was mentioned in the course title proved not to be an impediment.
In a press release Campion explained that the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology is “truly unique. It is the only academic course in the world that deals with the human relationship, its history, its philosophy and its impact on our culture, past and present.
“We have some truly amazing students who produce astonishing work, which is both scholarly and imaginative. The Prince’s visit was the greatest validation possible for the innovative work we are doing at the University,” he said.
Campion said his own research interests include the nature of belief, the history and contemporary culture of astrology and astronomy, magic, pagan and New Age beliefs and practices, and utopian, millenarian and apocalyptic religious consequences and applications. The latter were explored in his most recent book, The New Age in the Modern West.
“I am particularly concerned with the attribution of meaning to the sky, the mythical construction of cosmologies as meaning-systems, and their political and religious consequences and applications. I am also interested in ideological and mythical features of current space travel and exploration, especially their relationship with ancient traditions of the ascent to the stars,” he added.
Campion said the Centre’s post-graduate course attracts students from around the globe with members of this year’s cohort (2016) coming from the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium and the U.S.
The work of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture also includes the organization of an annual conference that focuses on one particular aspect of the Centre’s subject. In addition to conference publications the Centre publishes two academic journals, Culture and Cosmos and Spica, an online postgraduate journal.
According to Campion, the Centre is pioneering the study of the relationship between theories and concepts of skyscapes and landscapes. A current research project on Welsh Monastic Skyscapes focuses the Centre’s concern with archaeoastronomy and the alignment of Welsh monasteries with the sky.
Also ongoing at the Centre is a study of seventeenth-century astronomer Johannes Kepler’s attempted reform of astrology. Stars and Society in the Modern West is a study that focuses on the place, role and function of astrology in the modern era.
More information on the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture can be found at http://www.uwtsd.ac.uk/sophia/.