Philosophy cuts in UK Universities

Posted by Edward Willatt on Thursday, November 26, 2009 Under: Universities
Over at Infinite Thought the growing cuts to philosophy provision at new universities in the UK, those formed since 1992 when polytechnics were granted university status, is the subject of an important post.  The argument is made that this forms part not of a response to student demands or needs but of a new conception of what new univerities should be.  They should no longer bring the subjects studied for centuries at older universities to more and more people but are instead heading towards a more 'vocational' status.  I have never liked the distinction between 'academic' and 'vocational' because it neglects the fact that academics have a vocation.  A vocation is also the prerequisite for entering a religious order or holding a religious office.  It also seems to deny the relevance of the academic to the rest of society.  It assumes that the academic (or what is referred to as academic, didactic or contained in an 'ivory tower') is not capable of blowing apart social conventions and forms.  I worry that rather than serving student needs better this change in direction is going to deprive those attending newer universities of the kind of study enjoyed at older univerisities.  The post at Infinite Thought puts this case better than I could.  I think we need to challenge the certainties that are becoming so established today.  Just as we are all encouraged to specialise more and more (with more and more degrees becoming training in a particular career) so we are cut of from having any 'idea of the whole' that we can find in subjects that are the most 'academic'.  These refer to what is most unrecognisable from the point of view of social conventions and discourse, and which, for this very reason, has the most power to bring about change.  In a 'knowledge economy' our vocation is apparently to find a particular area of knowledge and cling to it for dear life.  The notion that the academic is cut off from society and from the world of work has become an accepted premise of the public debate.  The present plans to measure the 'impact' of research in the new Research Excellence Framework seems to take for granted what are only particular views of what is 'academic' and what is not.  If everyone specialises and if many students are denied the broader horizons of studies that are not attached to particular careers this situation can only get worse.

In : Universities 



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Philosophy cuts in UK Universities

Posted by Edward Willatt on Thursday, November 26, 2009 Under: Universities
Over at Infinite Thought the growing cuts to philosophy provision at new universities in the UK, those formed since 1992 when polytechnics were granted university status, is the subject of an important post.  The argument is made that this forms part not of a response to student demands or needs but of a new conception of what new univerities should be.  They should no longer bring the subjects studied for centuries at older universities to more and more people but are instead heading towards a more 'vocational' status.  I have never liked the distinction between 'academic' and 'vocational' because it neglects the fact that academics have a vocation.  A vocation is also the prerequisite for entering a religious order or holding a religious office.  It also seems to deny the relevance of the academic to the rest of society.  It assumes that the academic (or what is referred to as academic, didactic or contained in an 'ivory tower') is not capable of blowing apart social conventions and forms.  I worry that rather than serving student needs better this change in direction is going to deprive those attending newer universities of the kind of study enjoyed at older univerisities.  The post at Infinite Thought puts this case better than I could.  I think we need to challenge the certainties that are becoming so established today.  Just as we are all encouraged to specialise more and more (with more and more degrees becoming training in a particular career) so we are cut of from having any 'idea of the whole' that we can find in subjects that are the most 'academic'.  These refer to what is most unrecognisable from the point of view of social conventions and discourse, and which, for this very reason, has the most power to bring about change.  In a 'knowledge economy' our vocation is apparently to find a particular area of knowledge and cling to it for dear life.  The notion that the academic is cut off from society and from the world of work has become an accepted premise of the public debate.  The present plans to measure the 'impact' of research in the new Research Excellence Framework seems to take for granted what are only particular views of what is 'academic' and what is not.  If everyone specialises and if many students are denied the broader horizons of studies that are not attached to particular careers this situation can only get worse.

In : Universities 



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