The BPA’s job is to promote and foster the teaching and study of, and research in, Philosophy in the UK. If you are involved in philosophy in the UK – whether you are a university lecturer, a part-time tutor, a PhD student, or an A-level teacher – there are bound to be issues that concern you.
For example, if you are a university lecturer, you might be worried about how or whether the ‘impact agenda’ affects you. If you are a schoolteacher, you might be concerned about the way in which Philosophy ‘A’ level papers are marked, or about staff development opportunities that will help your efforts to teach the philosophy curriculum as effectively as possible.
• Consultations: As the national subject association for Philosophy in the UK, the BPA is regularly asked to consult with the AHRC, the QAA, HEFCE, etc. The BPA also maintains contact with other subject associations in the Arts and Humanities, and where possible we seek to co-ordinate our responses, in order to make a bigger impact.
• Research Excellence Framework: The BPA organised an open meeting to discuss the proposed ‘impact’ component of the REF in late 2009, which was well attended by a cross-section of the UK’s philosophical community and representatives of several learned societies. This formed the basis of part of our response to HEFCE’s consultation on the REF; we are continuing to ensure that we contribute to HEFCE decision-making on all aspects of the REF.
• AHRC: The BPA submitted a proposal for the replacement to the popular Research Leave Scheme. The new scheme – the Fellowships Scheme – follows the BPA’s proposal very closely, including a flexible approach to the % of time allocated to the project and the length of the project, and an early career route.
• ERIH: Along with other arts and humanities subject associations and learned societies, the BPA campaigned for the AHRC to withdraw from the ‘European Reference Index for the Humanities’ project run by the European Science Foundation.
• Philosophy in schools: Given the increasing popularity of Philosophy as an AS and A2 subject, the BPA is very keen to assist in curriculum development and to support teachers of philosophy at AS- and A2-level. With this in mind, we have launched our ‘Answers’ website: click on the link at the top of the page. We would like schoolteachers of philosophy and schools and sixth-form colleges that teach philosophy to join the BPA and help us develop our activities in a way that best suits their needs.
• The Higher Education Academy: The BPA has a representative on the Advisory Board of the Philosophical and Religious Studies Subject Centre of the Higher Education Academy, in order to help it to develop its activities in a way that best serves the interests of those teaching and studying philosophy in HE institutions.
• The QAA: The BPA Executive Committee was responsible for producing the revised Benchmark Statement for Philosophy (2007), after consulting our members.
• At-risk Departments: The BPA Executive Committee are very happy to offer confidential advice to any department that feels under threat in any way, and to respond positively to requests to assist them in dealing with such threats. The Secretary of the BPA played a significant role in the internal review at Birmingham in 2004-5, which led to the University’s decision to reinvest in the Department.
• We rely almost entirely on the subscriptions of individual and institutional members. If you are not a member, join us, please. Membership is inexpensive, and by contributing a modest annual fee (individual membership is £15, or £8 unwaged), you will be helping to provide the funds needed to protect and enhance Philosophy in the UK. If you buy philosophy books or subscribe to journals, you may well recoup your membership fees through the discounts available to members that we have negotiated with academic publishers.
• If you are already a member, please consider paying by Standing Order or taking out lifetime membership. These make things easier for you – no need to fill in a form and send a cheque every year – and they also cut our costs considerably.
• If your department, school or sixth-form college, or a learned society of which you are a member, is not itself a member of the BPA, please ask the relevant authority to consider becoming an institutional member.