Thursday 29 April 2010

Middlesex 'University' Philosophy Dept. to Close

The Philogosphere is ablaze with indignation and I must confess, I feel a little sick: Middlesex 'University' (this institution no longer deserves the title) has announced its intention to close its entire philosophy department - a department that is arguably the most successful of any in the humanities in a post-1992 university; a department that is undoubtedly the finest place to study continental philosophy in the UK; a department that is both financially viable and as far as research quality goes, I had previously assumed, the jewel in the crown of an ambitious 'university'.

I have a personal connection to this insofar as I had hoped to study in this department next year - an ambition apparently thwarted.

The reason given for the closure is financial - that, while the department is financially viable, it is not as potentially profitable as other areas. If this is the real reason then this is mind bogglingly stupid and repulsive on every level that I can think of. Not only is it the most anti-intellectual thing I've ever heard but for anything calling itself a 'university', even if it is only as a matter of branding, to close its most widely recognised intellectual success story seems simply bizarre.

I can only assume that there is a little more to this than has, as of yet, met the eye. While philosophy at Middlesex has achieved worldwide recognition I can't imagine anyone working there being particularly open to the direction the 'university' as a whole has taken. See, for instance, the opening of a Dubai campus and the Dean's cringe-inducing videos showing how business and academia can 'help each other out'. Might the decision have been made more on the basis of this useful asset being a long term hinderance? It seems possible. A dark day for (what remains of) my faith in academia!