Open Letter to St Mary’s University in support of Philosophy Programme

The BPA, the heads of philosophy departments, and many learned societies have today sent an open letter to St Mary’s University, Twickenham, urging them to retain their Philosophy programme. The BPA understand that the University’s management has been consulting about closing the Philosophy programme, a move which we think would run directly counter to the university’s publically stated mission.

You can read the letter here; please consider signing a student-group’s petition in support of St Mary’s philososophy programme here. A second petition has been started here, and this latter petition-site accepts signatures from people who have non-UK postcodes/zipcodes. The signatories to the BPA’s open letter are as follows:

Prof. Robert Stern
President, British Philosophical Association

Dr Manuel Dries
Head of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University

Dr Meena Dhanda (D.Phil. Oxford)  SFHEA
Reader in Philosophy and Cultural Politics, Course Leader Philosophy,
University of Wolverhampton

Dr Andrew Edgar
Head of Philosophy, Cardiff University

Prof Bob Brecher
Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics & Ethics
University of Brighton

Professor Jennifer Saul
Director, Society for Women in Philosophy UK

Dr. Karim Thébault
Honorary Secretary, the British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Professor M. Wheeler
Head of the Division of Law and Philosophy, University of Stirling

Dr Daniele Moyal-Sharrock
President of the British Wittgenstein Society

Dr Brendan Larvor
Head of Philosophy, The University of Hertfordshire

Dr David Rose
Head of the Philosophical Studies, Newcastle University 

Prof. Daniel Whiting
Head of Philosophy, University of Southampton

Prof. David Archard
Philosophy, Queen’s University Belfast

Dr. Andrew Fisher
Head of the Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham

Dr Kath Jones. External examiner for St Mary’s Philosophy programmes.
Senior lecturer at the University of Greenwich and senior fellow of the HEA.

Professor James R. O’Shea
Head of School of Philosophy

Dr Russell Re Manning
Head of Department, Religions, Philosophies, and Ethics, Bath Spa University

Prof Fabian Freyenhagen,
Head of School, School of Philosophy and Art History, University of Essex

Dr Todd Mei
Head of the Department of Philosophy, University of Kent

Prof. Hallvard Lillehammer
Assistant Dean, School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London

Professor Stella Sandford
Head of Department of Philosophy, Kingston University

Prof. Helen Beebee
Head, Department of Philosophy, University of Manchester

Prof. Rosanna Keefe
Head of the Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield

Sorin Baiasu
Professor of Philosophy, Keele University

Prof. Bill Brewer
Head of the Department of Philosophy, King’s College London

Professor Maria Rosa Antognazza
Chair, British Society for the History of Philosophy

Prof. Helen Steward
Head of Philosophy, University of Leeds

Professor Fiona Macpherson FRSE
Head of the Philosophy, University of Glasgow

Professor Havi Carel
Head of Subject, Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol

Dr Rory Madden
Honorary Director of the Aristotelian Society

Dr Jonathan Webber
President, British Society for Ethical Theory
President, UK Sartre Society

Dr Mark Cain
Programme Lead for Philosophy, Oxford Brookes University

Prof. James Harris
Head of Philosophy, University of St Andrews

Prof. C. Hookway
Chair of the Analysis Committee

Prof. José Zalabardo
Head of the Philosophy Department, UCL

 

BPA and Heads of Department of Philosophy open letter to Hungary in support of CEU Budapest

The Hungarian Parliament are instigating legislation that would make it impossible for CEU to continue its present operations in Budapest (details are here). The BPA have sent a letter to the Hungarian Minister responsible for universities recommending that Parliament revise these plans. The letter was co-signed by 30 departments of philosophy from the UK and Ireland.

Mr. Zoltán Balog
Minister of Human Capacities
1054 Budapest, Akadémia utca 3.
Hungary

CC: 
Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary; 
Office of the Prime Minister; 
Central European University

Dear Minister Balog,

As Heads of Departments of Philosophy, we are writing on behalf of our colleagues to voice our concern at the legislative changes to CEU’s status in Hungary. We believe that these changes are not in Hungary’s interests, will endanger the academic freedom vital for CEU’s continued operation in Budapest and will strike a blow against the academic freedom that enables all universities, including those in Hungary, to flourish.

The CEU Philosophy department is home to world class scholars, attracts visiting philosophers from all over the world to spend time in Hungary, and has produced PhD students who have gone on to work at leading universities in Hungary, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the US and the UK. CEU’s Philosophy department is a valued member of the international academic community and its presence in Hungary has certainly added to the reputation of Hungarian academic life on the international stage. The government’s legislation to alter CEU’s statute of operation will be disastrous to Hungary’s international academic stature.

We respectfully urge the government to revise the legislation and enter consultation with CEU, bearing in mind the damage such legislation will do to Hungary’s well-founded international academic reputation and relationships.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Robert Stern
President of the British Philosophical Association

Dr. Nikk Effingham
Head of Department of Philosophy, University of Birmingham

Professor Fabian Freyenhagen,
Head of School, School of Philosophy and Art History, University of Essex

Professor Matt Nudds,
Head of Philosophy Department, Chair of the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Warwick

Professor Stella Sandford
Head of Department of Philosophy, Kingston University

Professor Helen Beebee
Head of Department of Philosophy, University of Manchester, UK

Professor Hallvard Lillehammer
Assistant Dean, Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London

Professor Peter Osborne
Director, Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University London

Dr Russell Re Manning
On behalf of Religions, Philosophies and Ethics, Bath Spa University

Professor Tim Thornton, 
Professor of Philosophy and Mental Health, School of Nursing, University of Central Lancashire

Dr Daniel Whiting
Head of Philosophy, University of Southampton

Dr Brendan Larvor
Reader in Philosophy and Head of Philosophy, University of Hertfordshire

Dr Manuel Dries
Head of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University

Dr Meena Dhanda SFHEA
Course Leader Philosophy, University of Wolverhampton

Dr Alison Ainley
Head of Humanities and Social Sciences, Principal Lecturer Philosophy, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge

Professor Havi Carel
Head of Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol

Professor Don Ross
Head, Philosophy Department, University College Cork, Ireland

Dr. Ullrich M. Haase DEA SFHEA,
Head of Philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University

Professor Bill Brewer
Susan Stebbing Professor of Philosophy, Head of the Department of Philosophy, King’s College London

Professor Fiona Macpherson, FRSE
Head of Philosophy and Director of Research in Philosophy, Director of the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience
Deputy Head of School of Humanities, University of Glasgow

Professor James Harris
Head of Philosophy, University of St Andrews

Professor Miklos Redei
Head of Department, Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
London School of Economics and Political Science

Professor Stephen Burwood
Programme Leader for Philosophy, University of Hull

Professor Dave Archard
Department of Philosophy, Queen’s University Belfast

Dr Edward Harcourt
Chair, Philosophy Faculty Board, University of Oxford

Professor Bob Brecher
Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics & Ethics, University of Brighton

Dr Matthew Chrisman
Head of Philosophy, University of Edinburgh

Dr Mark Cain
Programme Lead for Philosophy, School of History, Philosophy and Culture, Oxford Brookes University

Professor Rosanna Keefe
Head of Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield

Professor Maximilian de Gaynesford
Head of Department, Philosophy, The University of Reading

Professor Helen Steward
Deputy Head of the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science, University of Leeds

Dr Andrew Fisher
Head of the Philosophy Department, The University of Nottingham

Professor Sorin Baiasu
Director of the Philosophy Programme & Associate Director of Research for SPIRE
(School of Politics, Philosophy, International Relations and Environment)

BPA letter to Lord Stern’s review of REF

The UK Government’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills have appointed Lord Nicholas Stern to review the Research Excellence Framework. They issued a ’call for evidence’ in January 2016 (here), in order to (in their words) "explore some of the issues raised and investigate ways in which a simpler, lighter-touch, system for the REF might be developed." The BPA contacted Heads of Departments of Philosophy around the UK to solicit responses, and we’re grateful to all of those who replied. We were helped enormously by Prof Alexander Bird, who was the Chair of the REF panel for philosophy in 2014 – his insights about the most pertinent issues likely to affect philosophy have been enormously useful. Our response is available here.

Academics under threat in Turkey

The BPA have endorsed a public statement of support for Turkish academics – including philosophers – who are being subjected to investigation, arrest and prosecution for signing a petition calling for peace in Turkey. The statement has been organised by the Scholars At Risk (SAR) network, and can be found here. Many university administrations have been pressured by Turkey’s Higher Education Council into starting investigations into philosophers who signed the petition, and this includes prestigious universities that hire internationally. The BPA and other philosophical associations are deeply concerned by these developments – we support our colleagues in Turkey and call for the investigations and charges to be dropped and for the government of Turkey to reaffirm its commitment to academic freedom.

More information on the situation can be found on the SAR page here. There is an open petition here which is collecting signatures, and the BPA encourages its members to add their signatures and to circulate the link widely.

Reply to BiS consultation: ’Fulfilling Our Potential’ Green Paper on Teaching Excellence Framework proposals

The UK Government’s Department for Business, Inovation and Skills opened a consultation in November 2015 on their Green Paper ’Fulfilling Our Potential: teaching excellence, social mobility’. The BPA collaborated with colleagues from other subject associations across the humanities through the Arts and Humanities Alliance (AHA, website here), an umbrella group, to put together a forthright response endorsed by over 20 professional associations. You can find that document here. We also thought about whether there were any issues raised by the green paper which might affect philosophy in particular – that is, ways in which the proposed Teaching Excellence Framework might be in tension with the kinds of things that the BPA think are importantly in need of consideration given the way that philosophy exists in universities, as opposed to just general difficulties thrown up by the proposals. We consulted with Joshua Forstenzer, the Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow in the Public Benefit of Higher Education at the University of Sheffield, who had just completed a very useful (and philosophical) response (available here), and with Jenny Saul from the Society for Women in Philosophy (the SWIP UK response is here), and submitted a BPA response, which you can read here

Response to OfQual consultation: GCE AS and A Level Philosophy

In October 2015, OfQual had an open consultation about changes to the Subject Content statement and the methods of assessment for GCE Philosophy. The BPA enouraged all of our members to send responses, and to let us know about what they thought needed special attention. We received a lot of replies and submitted this response to OfQual. We have since learned that OfQual were impressed with the way the philosophical community were able to make such a helpful and active engagement with their proposed changes. They’ve since been in touch with the BPA to discuss ways in which the proposed changes can be implemented.

Heythrop College Closure

Heythrop College’s governing body made a decision to close the college (details here). The BPA and many heads of departments have written an open letter to protest against the closure and to ask the governing body to revise their decision:

The governors of Heythrop College announced on Friday 26 June that the College in its current form, as a constituent college of the University of London specialising in philosophy and theology, is to come to an end. In justifying this closure, the governing body referred to the cost of compliance not the cost of teaching, which implies that there are externally imposed bureaucratic requirements, and that this is what has made this small college unviable. Anyone who has worked in higher education over the past decades knows how difficult it is for a small institution to survive financially in the current climate, that financial crises are a constant fact of life, but also that things can quickly improve. It would be a tragedy if this unique Jesuit college, with its centuries’ old history, were allowed to go under now, at the very time when it is making a really significant contribution to philosophical and theological research both nationally and internationally. For example, the College’s theology research, which incorporated submissions from philosophy, achieved excellent ratings in the latest government assessment, and its Centre for Philosophy of Religion obtained significant external funding for its research on religious understanding.

Heythrop provides an intellectual space where religious thought is brought into dialogue with philosophy in the context of academic scholarship and (through the College’s frequent open lectures and conferences) wider public debate. Its impact in exploring religious and spiritual values and in fostering the philosophical understanding of religion cannot be underestimated. It would be a real loss if it were allowed to disappear.

The letter was published in the Tablet (link) with a follow-up article. The cosignatories are:

Dr Alison Ainley, Principal Lecturer Philosophy, Anglia Ruskin University
Professor Maria Rosa Antognazza, Head of Department of Philosophy, King’s College London
Dr Sorin Baiasu, Philosophy Programme Director, Keele University
Dr Alex Barber, Head of Department of Philosophy, The Open University
Dr Bob Brecher, University of Brighton
Dr Mark Cain, Programme Lead for Philosophy and Religion, Department of History, Philosophy and Religion, Oxford Brookes University
Dr Gideon Calder, Professor of Social Ethics, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of South Wales
Prof Julian Dodd, Head of Philosophy, University of Manchester
Dr Meena Dhanda, Course Leader Philosophy, University of Wolverhampton
Dr Edward Harcourt, Chair, Philosophy Faculty Board, Oxford
Dr Fabian Freyenhagen, Philosophy, University of Essex
Dr Kath R. Jones. Senior lecturer in Philosophy, University of Greenwich,
Professor Fiona Macpherson, Head of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, University of Glasgow
Prof Denis McManus, Head of Philosophy, University of Southampton
Prof Peter Milne, Philosophy, University of Stirling
Dr David Edward Rose, Subject Leader in Philosophy, Newcastle University
Prof Stella Sandford, Head of Department of Philosophy, Kingston University
Prof Jennifer Saul, Head of Department, Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield
Dr Raj Sehgal, Programme Convenor for Philosophy, Theology & Religion, University of Roehampton
Dr Nicholas Shackel, Reader in Philosophy, University of Cardiff
Dr Jonathan Tallant, Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham
Prof Tim Thornton, Professor of Philosophy and Mental Health, University of Central Lancashire

 

APA / BPA Philosophy Journals Survey

The BPA and the American Philosophical Association have jointly conducted a survey of 43 philosophy journals to gather data on their submission and acceptance rates, review process, and the percentages of papers submitted and accepted that were written by women and members of minority ethnic groups from 2011 to 2013. You can find the results of the survey over here on the BPA site, or over here on the APA’s site.

 

BPA Head of Departments meeting with Alexander Bird, post-REF2014, & Alison Wood, AQA.

In January 2015, the BPA invited  Alexander Bird, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bristol, to meet with Heads of Departments of philosophy to discuss REF2014. Alexander was the chair of the Philosophy sub-panel on the REF. He gave a presentation which you can download here, and the Q&A/discussion is recorded in the minutes of the meeting which you can download here. The minutes include a summary of the other BPA business affecting philosophy departments around the UK, in particular: the recent developments in AQA’s A-level philosophy qualification, presented to the meeting by AQA’s Head of Curriculum and Assessment Practices, Alison Wood.

 

Call for Collaborators: Minorities and Philosophy, UK

In order to examine and address issues of participation faced by minority and underrepresented groups in academic philosophy (e.g. gender, race, native-language, sexual orientation, class, and disability minorities), a number of UK departments have recently started to build a UK network of chapters of MAP (www.mapforthegap.com).

With 24 active chapters to date, MAP (Minorities And Philosophy) is already a successful and widespread organization in the US and elsewhere. If you would like to have a MAP chapter at your own institution, this Call For Collaborators is for you. MAP chapters are generally run by graduate students (typically 3 or 4 per department), with some help from academic staff members; undergraduate participation is also encouraged.

At this stage MAP would be happy to hear especially from graduate students (groups or individuals) at UK Philosophy departments as well as from UK Philosophy academic staff who would like to coordinate graduate student interest in their institutions. Please contact Filippo Contesi (filippo.contesi@gmail.com).

28 July 14

BPPA 2014 - University of Leeds

For information on the British Postgraduate Philosophy Association Annual Conference 2014 please click on the following link: BPPA 2014. The conference will take place from Tuesday 9th September - Friday 12th September. 

09 July 14

BPA statement on the future of Philosophy A-level

For a statement from the BPA relating to recent proposed changes to the Philosophy A-level in the UK, please click on the following link: BPA statement.

Professor Gillian Howie

We are very sorry to report the death of Gillian Howie, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Liverpool. Gill died on 26th March in Woolton, Liverpool, after a long struggle with illness.

Gill published widely, with particular research interests in feminist philosophy, and was co-ordinator of the interdisciplinary ‘New Thinking on Living with Dying Network’ at Liverpool. A recording of her lecture ‘How to Think about Death: Living with Dying’ can be found here.

Gill was a member of the BPA Executive Committee from 2009-2012, and of the BPA Women in Philosophy Committee. Her contributions to both were extremely valuable, and her conscientious work for the BPA much appreciated.

Gill’s funeral is on Wednesday 10th April at 1.30pm, at Springwood Crematorium Allerton, Springwood Ave, Garston, Liverpool L25 7UN.

03 Apr 13

BPA paper on GTA pay and conditions

A BPA paper with information and advice on Graduate Teaching Assistant pay and conditions can be found here.

21 Feb 13

Position Paper on Open Access

The BPA response to the Government’s proposals for open access publishing can be found here.

19 Feb 13

BPA Newsletter 2013

Click here for the 2013 BPA Newsletter.

30 Jul 12

Professor David Hamlyn

The BPA is saddened to announce the death of Professor David Hamlyn, who was Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck Colege 1964-1988, and who served on the British Philosophical Association’s predecessor organisation the National Committee for Philosophy from 1986-1993. Professor Hamlyn sadly passed away on Sunday 15th July after a period of illness. He was aged 87.

Professor Hamlyn’s family are asking for donations in his name to the Mind Association (Registered Charity No. 269707), which supports and promotes research excellence in philosophy. Professor Hamlyn was Editor of the Mind Association’s quarterly journal Mind from 1972-1984.