Callinicos letter

29 April 2010

Dear Professor Driscoll,

I was deeply shocked to learn of the decision by you and your colleagues to close all Philosophy programmes at Middlesex University. The Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy has a truly global reputation. I have interacted intellectually with some of its leading members for many years now and I have a very strong sense of the quality of their work. I was particularly struck by the reported remark by the Dean of the School of Arts and Education, Ed Esche, to Philosophy staff, that he ‘acknowledged the excellent research reputation of Philosophy at Middlesex, but … it made no “measurable” contribution to the University’. If I may say so, this reveals a profound misunderstanding of the nature of universities. Much of what is most valuable in what happens at universities, both in teaching and in research, may not have a quantifiable cash-value, but nevertheless contributes to the self-development of individual students and to a more advanced understanding of the world in which we live. It is unbelievably short-sighted to judge departments simply from the standpoint of the bottom line.

I appreciate that these are very difficult times financially for universities. My own institution is experiencing a considerable upheaval at the minute. But I know from that experience that decisions taken out of a sense of economic urgency can do lasting long-term damage. If you close down Philosophy, you will put a stain on the reputation of Middlesex University that will prove very hard to eradicate. You must, in the short term, expect a storm of protest, both nationally and internationally. I appeal to you to think again, and reverse your extremely ill-judged decision.

Yours sincerely,

Alex Callinicos

Alex Callinicos
Professor of European Studies
French Department
King’s College London
London WC2R 2LS

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