Clear and precise danger (1 of 2)

March 10, 2011

The president of the British Academy, Sir Adam Roberts, does not deny that there are threats to the humanities and social sciences, but says that we need to identify them "accurately, with more precision and less paranoia" ("The end is not nigh", 3 March). I agree.

Would Roberts agree that the decision by the government to abrogate the Haldane principle and dictate to humanities funders the "key national strategic priorities" that must guide their choices represents such a threat?

Can he confirm that the British Academy was required by the government to abandon its small grants scheme and instead devote more resources to postdoctoral fellowships, a majority of which are expected to contribute to "national priorities"?

Doesn't Roberts' apparent inability to discuss these stipulations in public represent a threat to the British Academy's capacity to serve as an independent voice for the humanities and social sciences?

Peter Mandler, Professor of modern cultural history, University of Cambridge

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