Philosophy and Education Conference

Rugby School 8 May 2012
‘The Philosophical Dimension of Learning’

Julian Baggini (Writer, journalist and co-founder of The Philosophers’ Magazine)
A C Grayling (Master of the New College of the Humanities, UK)
Angie Hobbs (Senior Fellow in the Public Understanding of Philosophy, Warwick University)
John Taylor (Head of Philosophy and Director of Critical Skills, Rugby School)

This conference for teachers, school leaders and others with an interest in curriculum issues will address the question of the place of philosophy within secondary education.

For further details please go to here

04 May 12 

Philosophy at Northampton under threat

The Executive Dean of Social Sciences at the University of Northampton has decided to phase out the teaching of Philosophy and close the Department; there will be no student intake from 2012. If you wish to register a protest, please write to the VC, Prof Nicholas Petford.

We’ve sent letters to the VC, and to Sally Keeble, MP (Labour) for Northampton North, and Brian Binley, MP (Conservative) for Northampton South. You can read a copy of the former here.

REF Consultation

HEFCE’s Consultation on draft panel criteria and working methods for the REF 2014 panels concludes on 5th October. Institutions, associations and individuals can make responses. These can be made online here.

The Consultation concerns the draft panel criteria and working methods. You can access the consultation here.

HEFCE has now published its ‘Assessment framework and guidance on submissions’. This lays down the overall framework for REF2014 and what will be required of institutions. The document can be obtained here. Please note that this document is not up for consultation.

The REF team has provided PDFs of presentations that will give you a quick overview of the exercise. One of these, ‘REF general slides for panel chairs.pdf’, available here, gives general information about the REF and consultation process; the other ‘Part 2D – REF consultation slides.pdf’, available here, provides information specific to Philosophy’s main panel (Main Panel D – arts and humanities), and the consultation concerning its draft panel criteria and working methods.

2011 Executive Committee election results

The following have been elected to the BPA Executive Committee, for a three-year term: Anita AvramidesMichael BradyHavi Carel and Tim Crane.

BPA Newsletter 2011

Click here for the 2011 BPA Newsletter.

Executive Committee elections: candidate statements

We have seven candidates for the four vacant committee posts: Anita Avramides, Sorin Baiasu, Michael Brady, Havi Carel, Tim Crane, Sarah Hutton, and Denis McManus. Brief statements from all the candidates are below. All BPA full individual members should be receiving a ballot paper by about 21 June; if you don’t receive one, please email us on admin@bpa.ac.uk.

Anita Avramides

Nominated by Adrian Moore ; seconded by Timothy Williamson

I am Reader in Philosophy at St Hilda’s College in Oxford. I have been in the profession now for over 20 years. I have been through lean times as a graduate, somewhat better times (but they weren’t wonderful), and now the lean times are back. I have served as Junior Proctor at the University of Oxford and on many University (as well as College) Committees – including Student Hardship Committee (for 8 years) and the Committee for Students Members (which liaises with OUSU representatives). I have been heavily involved in women’s issues at Oxford, in part by being associated with what was the last remaining single sex College in Oxford (until 2006). I also served as the Faculty’s first Graduate Women’s Officer. Women in philosophy is only a side interest, however; my passion is philosophy. I support all good work, be it in analytic philosophy, phenomenology, inter-disciplinary work, and the like. My efforts have largely been confined to my University and College, but I now have the opportunity to enter a wider arena and add my voice to those working hard to preserve our discipline and to ensure that it flourishes in hostile times. I am keen to support the teaching of philosophy and the intellectual values that our profession brings to the wider educational world.

Sorin Baiasu

Nominated by James Tartaglia; seconded by Josie D’Oro

I am a lecturer in Philosophy at Keele University, where I currently act as Programme Director. I am also the Secretary of the UK Kant Society, a member of their Executive Committee, and co-convenor of the Kantian Standing Group of the European Consortium for Political Research. I am seeking election prompted primarily by the difficult situation of higher education and in particular Philosophy at the moment. I have first-hand experience of the various threats Philosophy departments are currently facing, but I have also come to learn various ways in which to respond to them.

In addition to immediate threats, professional philosophers have to deal with several other issues, including the forthcoming REF, cuts in research funding, the uncertainty related to the introduction of new student fees and the lack of prospects for graduates who would like to pursue an academic career. The BPA has played a very significant role in addressing these issues and it is essential that it continues to do so. This I take to be one of the main roles of a member of the BPA Executive Committee.

My particular circumstances facilitate such a role: as member of the Executive Committee of other academic societies, I already have experience of acting in this context, and can focus on the essential problems; I am familiar, as Philosophy Programme Director, with the issues concerning REF, research cuts and new student fees; moreover, I have only recently been confirmed in post, I am employed by a university that belongs neither to the Russell group nor the ‘new universities’, and work in a context in which Philosophy is part of a larger School. Taken together, these circumstances and features equip me especially well to defend the interests of a wide range of philosophical groups.

Michael Brady

Nominated by M. M. McCabe; seconded by Helen Beebee

I am Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, and since July 2008 I have been a member of the BPA Executive Committee and Secretary of the Scots Philosophical Association. I am standing for re-election because I believe that my experience with both organizations will help the BPA to maintain its excellent record of support for UK philosophers; this belief is shared by members of the current Executive Committee, who have asked me to take over from Helen Beebee as Director in July 2011.

In the coming years it is vital that the BPA continues to engage in strong and effective action when philosophy departments are threatened with closure, to continue to support philosophers in both ‘traditional’ and ‘new’ universities, to oppose the ‘impact agenda’ in the assessment of the quality of research, to resist the proliferation of intellectually-dubious research themes proposed by funding bodies, and to respond, quickly and efficiently, to other items of concern for the philosophical community in the UK. I will, if elected, work hard to enable the BPA to achieve these goals.

Havi Hannah Carel

Nominated by Jenny Saul; seconded by Alexander Bird

I am a senior lecturer in philosophy at UWE Bristol. I am a member of the BPA/SWiP sub-committee for women. Through my work on philosophy of medicine I have become deeply involved in thinking about the interface of philosophy with other disciplines, as well as with professional groups and the general public. I am therefore well suited to represent philosophy before funding bodies, policy makers, and the public.

Like other philosophers, I am deeply concerned with the future of our discipline vis-à-vis the recent changes to HEFCE funding. I am particularly keen to think of ways of communicating the importance of philosophy to those outside the field, and to increase its visibility in the public sphere. For example, I have recently organised an event entitled Philosophy Matters, which was attended by 750 members of the public. Finally, as a member of a new university I am particularly aware of the need to lobby for the importance of our discipline in institutions less familiar with it, as well as to integrate philosophy teaching into professional courses such as medicine, nursing, and education.

Tim Crane

Nominated by Jane Heal; seconded by Jo Wolff

am Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge, and (from September 2011) chair of the Faculty of Philosophy. Previously I was in the UCL Philosophy Department for 19 years. I was a professor in that department, and I occupied all the main administrative roles in the department, including head of department, during my time there. In 2005 I founded the Institute of Philosophy in the University of London, whose aim was (and is) to facilitate and promote philosophical research in the UK.

I have a strong commitment to maintaining the excellence of philosophy at all levels and in all varieties of institution where it is taught in the UK. I believe that despite the current threats and the unprecedented pressures on university funding, the UK still has (and can continue to have) one of the strongest and most vibrant philosophical cultures in Europe. It is crucially important that the BPA makes the case for the importance of the study of philosophy in the universities and in the country’s intellectual culture as a whole. Since its formation, the BPA has done excellent work in defending philosophy departments under attack from short-sighted university administrations. I think it should continue this work, and it should continue to make clear the intrinsic and instrumental value of a philosophical education. In addition, I would hope that the BPA could play its part in articulating the value of philosophical thinking about fundamental questions to the whole of society. Technical and specialised work in philosophy is essential and fundamental; but philosophers must also not lose sight of the importance of communicating the centrality of their questions (and the intellectual discipline which tackles them) to the self-conception of any civilised society.

Sarah Hutton

Nominated by the British Society for the History of Philosophy

I have been associated with the BPA from the very beginning, having been a member of the working group charged with drafting proposals for its formation, and with drawing up the constitution prior to its launch in 2003. My links to BPA connect to its membership and purpose in a number of ways. As former chair of the British Society for the History of Philosophy, I am cognisant of the important contribution by philosophical societies to philosophical life in Britain and the importance of representing them in BPA. Having taught in both the university sectors (pre and post 1992), I am familiar with the challenges we face in higher education, and the different conditions obtaining in each sector. The future of philosophy as a discipline obviously depends on sustaining it as a strong presence in the universities. But it also lies with those who do not hold posts in philosophy departments, including both individuals who pursue philosophy in other departments, part-time and unemployed teachers of philosophy and those who teach philosophy in schools (I have always argued that BPA should be hospitable to philosophy in schools, and welcome the fact that school teachers are now encouraged to join). My research on women philosophers has sharpened my awareness of the challenges faced by women philosophers today. Currently based in Wales (Aberystwyth), I also feel strongly that philosophy should be nurtured in the British regions. In the present climate in higher education, BPA has an enormously important role in defending philosophy as a discipline. But it is vital that it promotes philosophy not just in the universities, but in the larger community. I would welcome the opportunity to contribute as a member of the executive committee.

Denis McManus

Nominated by Daniel Whiting; seconded by Maria Alvarez

I am a Reader in Philosophy at the University of Southampton, where I’ve taught since 1996. I’ve held many administrative roles during that time and am currently our Head of Education. I’ve been external examiner for Exeter and Cardiff Universities and have acted as external advisor for Periodic Review for several other Philosophy departments; so I feel I have an appreciation of the pressures on Philosophy in the UK.

Clearly, hard times are ahead. We face rising student expectations while income falls, funding bodies with agendas that are very much their own, and the need to demonstrate our discipline’s value – often in specifically economically-conceived terms – not only to the general public but also to government, to schools and indeed to universities, which don’t always seem to understand just what philosophy is.

Along with the familiar day-to-day juggling act of teaching, administration and research – and the specific forms of pressure on the latter that come with the REF – individual departments around the country now have to address these additional demands, as must individual members of the BPA, directly or indirectly. But these represent quite general challenges, to which UK philosophers could usefully make co-ordinated, collective responses; and I see the BPA as helping to make those possible.