Saturday, 8 May 2010

Save Middlesex Philosophy

Save Middlesex University Philosophy School
Staff and students, both current and former are occupying Mansion House on Trent Park campus,  part  of Middlesex University, in protest at the planned closure of the philosophy department. More on this , here.

Today there 9,902 on the Facebook campaign, here- and a parallel 12554 signatures on the online petition, here

This gets personal
I should say this gets very personal for me.  I did a BA in The History of Ideas at Middlesex  in 1984-87 when it was still good old Middlesex Polytechnic. I loved every day there.  To do post graduate work you had to head on down to the likes of Brighton to the University of Sussex, and freeze in the tiny bedsits on East Slope to take the much more prosaic MA in Social and Political Thought. Even now, the sounds of a group of Chinese voices chattering next door can take me straight to that narrow little study,  the little built in desk and the tiny sixties minimalist single bed.

Since since, after the change to Middlesex University, the North London  Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy is now one of the main focal points to the study of the European or continental philosophy. Despite this, management at Middlesex University have decided to cut all philosophy programs, including their MA and PhD degrees.

This essentially means the end of the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, a hub for internationally scholarship and the best RAE rated research department in the University. Current supporters include some of the most prestigious names in international philosophic scholarship. Thirty of the same recently wrote to the THE to say:

"We the undersigned deplore the recent decision of Middlesex University to close its Philosophy programmes, including its prestigious and successful MAs. The abrupt closure of these programmes is a matter of national and indeed international concern. Not only does it contradict the stated commitment of Middlesex University to promote ‘research excellence’, it represents a startling stage in the impoverishment of Philosophy provision in the UK.

We have participated in events organised by the Philosophy group at Middlesex and we can testify to its unique combination of strengths, and to the significant and distinctive contribution it makes to philosophy in the UK. Its set of MA programmes is currently the largest in the UK. Philosophy is the highest research-rated subject at Middlesex University. In RAE 2008 Middlesex was rated first in philosophy among post-1992 universities, with 65% of its research activity judged “world-leading” or “internationally excellent”.

It is widely recognised as one of the most important centres for the study of modern European philosophy anywhere in the English-speaking world.  It is one of only a handful of Philosophy departments left in the UK that provides both research-driven and inclusive post-graduate teaching and supervision aimed at a wide range of students, specialist and non-specialist.

We call on Middlesex University to reverse this damaging and ill-judged decision to close its Philosophy programmes, and to renew its commitment to widening participation in education and to excellence in research.

  • Keith Ansell-Pearson, Professor of Philosophy, University of Warwick
  • Alain Badiou, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, École Normale Supérieure,
  • Etienne Balibar, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Université de Paris-Nanterre & Distinguished Professor of Humanities, University of California Irvine
  • Miguel Beistegui, Professor of Philosophy, University of Warwick
  • Andrew Benjamin, Professor of Critical Theory and Philosophical Aesthetics, Monash  University
  • Andrew Bowie, Professor of Philosophy and German, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature, University of California at Berkeley
  • Susan Buck-Morss, Jan Rock Zubrow ’77 Professor of Government Cornell University,
    New York
  • Barbara Cassin, Directeur de Recherches, Centre National de la Recherche
    Scientifique, Paris
  • Simon Critchley, Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy Department, New School for Social Research, New York
  • Christopher Fynsk, Professor of Comparative Literature and Modern Thought and Director of the Centre for Modern Thought, University of Aberdeen
  • Simon Glendinning, Reader in European Philosophy, London School of Economics & Director of the Forum for European Philosophy
  • Boris Groys, Professor of Slavic and Russian Studies, New York University
  • Michael Hardt, Professor of Literature, Duke University, NC
  • Harry Harootunian Emeritus Professor of History, Chicago and New York Universities
  • Joanna Hodge, Professor of Philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Claude Imbert, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, École Normale Supérieure, Paris
  • Mandy Merck, Professor of Media Arts, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Dermot Moran, Professor of Philosophy, University College Dublin
  • Michael Moriarty FBA, Centenary Professor of French Literature and Thought, Queen Mary, University of London
  • Antonio Negri, philosopher and political scientist
  • Jacques Rancière, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Université de Paris VIII
  • Kristin Ross, Professor of Comparative Literature, New York University
  • Lynne Segal, Anniversary Professor, Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London
  • Peter Sloterdijk, Rektor der Staatlichen Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe
  • Gayatri Spivak, University Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University, New York
  • Isabelle Stengers, Professor of Philosophy, Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • Peter Weibel, Chairman and CEO, ZKM/Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe
  • James Williams, Professor of European Philosophy, University of Dundee
  • Slavoj Zizek, Co-Director of the International Centre for Humanities, School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London.

People to email
As well as joining the FaceBook page, signing the petition et al, you might also care to write to:

Michael Driscoll, vice-chancellor of the university –
Waqar Ahmad, deputy vice-chancellor, research and enterprise –
Margaret House, deputy vice-chancellor, academic –
Ed Esche, dean of the School of Arts & Education –


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