29 April 2010
Dear Michael, Waqar, Margaret and Ed (if I may),
I am writing to you as an ex-Middlesex employee (I taught as a lecturer and senior lecturer in English and Communication Studies, and was Set Leader in English from around 1995-2000). I am currently Reader in Literary Linguistics at Strathclyde University, and have just completed a three-year term as Head of English. My research on Shakespeare’s language has an international profile.
I was very surprised to hear of the recent decision to close Philosophy at Middlesex. No doubt there are internal reasons and justifications for this, but I have to say that from the perspective of someone outside Middlesex this is a puzzling, and worrying, move.
I loved my time at Middlesex – the students were often inspiring and sometimes frustrating, but almost always interesting, and I had some great colleagues. It was not easy delivering high quality education on what was effectively an open-access basis given the resources available, but it certainly was a worthwhile thing to strive for.
I still, therefore, take an interest in developments at Middlesex, and wish the place and the people well.
Of course I don’t know on what basis the decision to close Philosophy was made, and I don’t expect to be given the details. What I will say, however, is that Strathclyde made a similar decision before I joined in 2000 – a decision which is *still* debated and regretted today. We are currently undergoing a reorganisation and merger of two of our faculties (Education and LASS [Law, Arts and Social Sciences]) – a process I have been closely involved with. Throughout this process, our attempts to reconfigure the two faculties into one new faculty capable of addressing Strathclyde’s historical strength in science and technology have been hampered by the lack of a philosophy department – in much of our thinking about potential new alignments, it was clear that a modern philosophy department could have formed a core for the new faculty.
Of course this was blue skies thinking, and you have to deal with actual people and situations, but please be aware that this decision will make those outside Middlesex question its commitment to research (which I always found to be genuine and serious in my time there) – and may restrict your ability to respond to changes in the intellectual context of academia in the future.
thank you for your time
Dr Jonathan Hope, Reader in Literary Linguistics, English Studies, Strathclyde University, Glasgow G1 1XH
The University of Strathclyde is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, number SC015263.http://www.strath.ac.uk/english/courses/renaissance/