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 philosophy programme here. A second petition has been started here, and this latter petition-site accepts signatures from people who have non-UK postcodes/zipcodes.
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. You can read it here.
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. 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.
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