This was supposed to be embargoed, but there’ve been enough leaks to make me think I can go public with it: news has emerged today that the Centre for Professional Ethics at Keele (PEAK) is facing the axe, as is the Keele Philosophy programme.
A Senate Paper detailing the proposed cuts is widely available, and people outside Keele can view it here. The general gist of it is that most of PEAK’s activity is to go, with a small amount absorbed into the Law School. The Philosophy programme is to go as well. It also looks as though the problems faced by PEAK and the Philosophy department are attributable to a combination of the recession and bad management by the University; hardly unique, hardly incurable, and hardly grounds to close the academic department.
As far as I know, the decision hasn’t been finalised yet – I believe that the relevant meeting will be in April – so there’s still time to do something about it.
Any decision to shut PEAK would be senseless. I’m informed that, not so long ago, the department provided Keele with 2% of its overall income. But even if you put that aside, PEAK is an academic gem, and any half-sane university would do everything it could to keep it going. PEAK boasts an absurdly high concentration of talent, with world-standard researchers in reproductive ethics, public health ethics, and research ethics (to name just three fields). Its web of alumni and former staff demonstrates just how successful it has been over the years at attracting and honing talent, and sending it back out in to the world.
I have personal reasons to be very attached to PEAK. At the start of my career, the Centre went out of its way to provide me with an office, library access, and enough teaching to keep me solvent, and did so for long enough that I could cobble together enough publications to stand a chance of getting my current gig in Manchester. The three years I spent there were a joy.
And, of course, my co-blogger David Hunter is based at Keele.
This is a very bad day for Keele University, and a very bad day for bioethics in the UK, if not the world.
Facebook groups for both have been set up here (for PEAK) and here (for Philosophy). If you would like to express your opinion of the proposal (politely please) the VC can be contacted here:
Prof. Nick Foskett, VC: email@example.com ; you could cc: Prof. Rama Thirunamachandran, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost: firstname.lastname@example.org, and Prof. David Shepherd, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences email@example.com – both of whom are signatories to the proposed restructuring. Please, though, do keep things polite.
(Thanks to Andrew Willetts for the Senate Paper link)