Middlesex Philosophy Department has been closed down in what can only be described as a truly atrocious decision. Last Monday, its staff all received an email informing them that all philosophy programs were to shut. This, in effect, means they have been made redundant. There are a number of reasons Middlesex is important. It has one of the best Centre's for European Philosophy in the UK. It has an outstanding team of philosophers working there: Peter Hallward, Peter Osborne, Stella Sanford, Mark Kelly, Christian Kerslake, Andrew Goffy and Stewart Martin. On top of this, there is a thriving graduate and student community. The majority of its research is what the RAE calls 'world-leading.' Such an assault on this department is therefore also an assault on some of the best and emergent work in contemporary philosophy, and remains wholly anathema to the flourishing of philosophy as a discipline.
The logic behind this decision by all accounts is quite bizarre. The Philosophy Department is one of Middlesex University’s highest earners. Middlesex is also important for the development of philosophy in the UK; this is for the the very reason that since it is a post-92 institution it would have had to fight harder to establish its reputation. on this front it has led the way and has been a leading light in the development of philosophy in said institutions. Middlesex as it stands is one the highest rated of all the post-92 institutions in the subject.
Of course, the main reason that this is important is because it bodes ill for all philosophy programs in the current economic conditions. If a successful, and indeed financially viable philosophy centre can be shut willy-nilly this therefore bears bad tidings for other philosophy program, not to lest mention smaller departments in other subjects which may be struggling. What is most infuriating and obscene about this decision is that a centre which is financially sound, a good centre of pedagogy, which contributes half its income to its university's administration cost, is given the chop. What further annoys me about this so much is that the University authorities keep changing the goalpost, so now not only do you have to be profitable, outstanding in research and good teachers, you also have to be something else as well (and who knows what that might be!). Outside of the monetarisation of knowledge, what type of message does this send to all professional academics, and most importantly, graduate, undergraduate students as well as potential members of the labour force: expend your labour, sell your time to an employer, it will never be enough and you are expendable for some nebulous reason anyway. I think it’s time to start thinking of ways to take back the university and get educators rather than businessmen to start running it.
Original announcement from the journal Radical Philsophy here: http://thethirdestate.net/2010/04/middlesex-university-shamefully-cuts-philosophy-department/
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