30 April 2010
As members of the international philosophical community, and as the Executive Committee of the Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy, we write to express our dismay at the decision by Middlesex University to close its Department of Philosophy.
The Department is widely recognised throughout the world as a centre of international standing for its work in the area of European philosophy. Members of the Department play a leading role in defining the framework within which topics in contemporary aesthetics as well as political philosophy, to name just two areas, are discussed.
It is almost incredible to those outside the UK that a Department of such remarkable standing could have its future jeopardized in this way. It is clear that its capacity to recruit and train graduate students is exceptional by both national as well as international standards. Rather than the University threatening the existence of the Department it should be seeking ways to develop it. On the basis of any criteria of evaluation – research, scholarship, graduate and undergraduate training etc., – the Department operates at the highest level. This has been recognized by internal assessment systems such as the RAE, as well as by external professional and peak bodies like the Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy. Moreover, as the leading centre for research in the area in the UK, the Department also offers important opportunities for international collaboration; indeed the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy frequently welcomes distinguished visiting scholars.
On behalf of the Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy we ask you to reconsider your decision to close this vital and important centre for the study of philosophy. Although it may seem like a reasonably small department in the context of the tens of thousands of philosophers who are employed worldwide, its closure would have some significant repercussions for philosophy around the world (and the decision to do so, has already generated a remarkable furore). This could not be said about many departments and is testimony to the international reputation and significance of its members.
Prof. Andrew Benjamin (Monash University)
Dr Simone Bignall (University of New South Wales)
Dr Richard Colledge (Australian Catholic University)
Dr Simone Drichel (University of Otago)
Dr Joanne Faulkner (University of New South Wales)
Dr Fiona Jenkins (Australian National University)
Dr Marguerite La Caze (University of Queensland)
Dr Jack Reynolds (La Trobe University)
Dr Matheson Russell (University of Auckland)
Dr Robert Sinnerbrink (Macquarie University)