why Middlesex philosophy matters to me…

These are not exhaustive reasons, but… they organise great conferences and workshops; my PhD supervisor did his PhD there; they are one of few places in the UK where you can study European/’continental’ philosophy, and certainly one of the best; several of the staff there are involved in the journal Radical Philosophy; the research work of their staff is terrific; some of the best recent PhDs have come from their department…

The crazy thing about this whole story is that they were by any reasonable expectations a really successful department. They recruited to a popular MA course; they scored well in the last two Research Assessement Exercises; and they were able to get research grant income for some of their projects. None of these are small achievements. And yet the Dean, while recognising their research excellence, says that they offer no ‘measureable’ contribution to the University. Perhaps it is the measures that are wrong, or indeed the whole idea of measure?

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4 Responses to why Middlesex philosophy matters to me…

  1. Pingback: Stuart Elden launches blog « Object-Oriented Philosophy

  2. Perc says:

    On the contrary, I think resistance to this travesty should take the line that this department clearly does have a measurable impact on the ‘university’ – a wholly beneficial one. Student numbers, RAE ratings – what is not measurable about this?

  3. stuartelden says:

    Sure, those things can be measured. The department definitely delivered on them, and one tactic would certainly be to talk about them. But on the other hand buying into that mentality is part of what got universities into this mess in the first place. A whole range of targets, impact factors, everything being counted and so on. I’m uncomfortable with the idea that everything in life, let alone academic life can be turned into a number. The problem is that the targets keep changing – RAE success and student recruitment might be okay, but then Middlesex management says that the key is the contribution to the centre, 55% is the aim, and the department comes short at 52%. Or that the per student funding for philosophy is too small compared to other subjects. I think it’s precisely this idea that education in quantifiable that is the problem. Playing the game by those rules means that those who set the rules can change them, and always find a way to defeat those who think education should be thought about in less calculative terms.

  4. Pingback: Closure of Middlesex Philosophy « Experimental Geographies

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