Thursday, April 29, 2010

Middlesex Philosophy Faces Closure

This isn't a joke. I received this email today from Radical Philosophy, which operates out of Middlesex:
Late on Monday 26 April, staff in Philosophy at Middlesex University in London were informed that the University executive are to close all Philosophy programmes: undergraduate, postgraduate and MPhil/PhD.

Philosophy is the highest research-rated subject at Middlesex University, with 65% of its research activity judged 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent' in the UK government's recent Research Assessment Exercise. It is now widely recognised as one of the most important centres for the study of modern European philosophy anywhere in the English-speaking world. Its MA programmes in Philosophy have grown in recent years to become the largest in the UK, with 42 new students admitted in September 2009. Middlesex offers one of only a handful of programmes left in the UK that provides both research-driven and inclusive post-graduate teaching aimed at a wide range of students, specialist and non-specialist. It is also one of relatively few such programmes that remains financially viable, currently contributing close to half of its total income to the University's central administration.

Needless to say, Radical Philosophy very much regret this decision to terminate Philosophy at Middlesex, and its likely consequences for the teaching of philosophy in the UK. This is a shameful decision which essentially means the end of the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, a hub for internationally renowned scholarship (; staff include Eric Alliez, Peter Hallward, Mark Kelly,Christian Kerslake, Peter Osborne and Stella Sandford). This act ofwilful self-harm by the University must be resisted.
In her article for the 'Comment is Free,' section in the Guardian, Nina Power writes:
Middlesex philosophy has been responsible for bringing contemporary thinkers to a wide audience through numerous international events and collaborations with European and American institutions, as well as cultural venues in London, such as the French Institute and Tate Britain. The postgraduate centre for research in modern European philosophy receives research grants from national funding bodies and there are 63 postgraduate students working on MAs and PhDs. It is an important and unique place – without doubt one of the few philosophy departments in the country where you can study contemporary European thought in any sustained way. It is also one of the only philosophy departments in existence that takes seriously philosophy's relation to other disciplines and to the world at large. The research centre at Middlesex is an institution as important to people not in philosophy as to those within it, and plays a critical role in the intellectual and cultural life of London.
There has been a slew of articles on Comment is Free in recent days lamenting the poor showing of women and ethnic minorities in philosophy and at philosophy-related events (Bidisha, Julian Baggini, Hilary Lawson). Middlesex is one of the few departments whose curriculum addresses this imbalance as a problem for and within philosophy, rather than pretending that the discipline itself plays no role in perpetuating class, gender and racial divisions.
The closure of philosophy at Middlesex will send a terrible message: that philosophy doesn't belong in ex-polytechnics, even when they achieve better results than elite institutions. [...] Closure at Middlesex would be a step back to the bad old days when philosophy meant a few young, white and almost entirely male students at privileged institutions discussing the finer points of formal logic over sherry. Middlesex University must be prevented from dismantling one of the finest philosophy departments in the country: fight to keep philosophy alive.
Do your part:
Sign the petition (our own Mr. Shaw is signatory 4094, update: Mr. Smith 4138), join the Facebook group, and spread the message.

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