Philosophical view: Middlesex, think again

May 6, 2010

We the undersigned deplore Middlesex University's recent decision to close its philosophy programmes, including its prestigious and successful MAs. This is a matter of national and indeed international concern. Not only does it contradict Middlesex's stated commitment to promote "research excellence", it also represents a startling stage in the impoverishment of philosophy provision in the UK.

We have participated in events organised by the Philosophy Group at Middlesex and can testify to its unique strengths and its significant and distinctive contribution to philosophy in the UK. Its set of MA programmes is currently the largest in the country.

Philosophy is the highest-rated research subject at Middlesex. In the research assessment exercise 2008, it was rated first in philosophy among post-1992 universities, with 65 per cent of its research judged "world-leading" or "internationally excellent".

Middlesex is widely recognised as one of the most important centres for the study of modern European philosophy anywhere in the English-speaking world. It has one of only a handful of philosophy departments left in the UK that provides both research-driven and inclusive postgraduate teaching and supervision aimed at a wide range of students, specialist and non-specialist.

We call on Middlesex to reverse its damaging and ill-judged decision, and to renew its commitment to widening participation in education and excellence in research.

Keith Ansell-Pearson, professor of philosophy, University of WarwickA
lain Badiou, emeritus professor of philosophy, École Normale Supérieure, Paris
Etienne Balibar, emeritus professor of philosophy, Université de Paris-Nanterre, and distinguished professor of humanities, University of California, Irvine
Miguel Beistegui, professor of philosophy, University of Warwick
Andrew Benjamin, professor of critical theory and philosophical aesthetics, Monash University, Australia
Andrew Bowie, professor of philosophy and German, Royal Holloway, University of London
Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot professor of rhetoric and comparative literature, University of California, Berkeley
Susan Buck-Morss, Jan Rock Zubrow professor of government, Cornell University, New York
Barbara Cassin, directeur de recherches, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris
Simon Critchley, professor of philosophy and chair of the philosophy department, New School for Social Research, New York
Christopher Fynsk, professor of comparative literature and modern thought, and director of the Centre for Modern Thought, University of Aberdeen
Simon Glendinning, reader in European philosophy, London School of Economics, and director of the Forum for European Philosophy
Boris Groys, professor of Slavic and Russian studies, New York University
Michael Hardt, professor of literature, Duke University, NC
Harry Harootunian, emeritus professor of history, Chicago and New York universities
Joanna Hodge, professor of philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University
Claude Imbert, emeritus professor of philosophy, École Normale Supérieure, Paris
Mandy Merck, professor of media arts, Royal Holloway, University of London
Dermot Moran, professor of philosophy, University College Dublin
Michael Moriarty FBA, centenary professor of French literature and thought, Queen Mary, University of London
Antonio Negri, philosopher and political scientist
Jacques Rancière, emeritus professor of philosophy, Université de Paris VIII
Kristin Ross, professor of comparative literature, New York University
Lynne Segal, anniversary professor, psychosocial studies, Birkbeck, University of London
Peter Sloterdijk, rektor der Staatlichen Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe
Gayatri Spivak, university professor in the humanities, Columbia University, New York
Isabelle Stengers, professor of philosophy, Université Libre de Bruxelles
Peter Weibel, chairman and CEO, ZKM/Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe
James Williams, professor of European philosophy, University of Dundee
Slavoj Zizek, co-director of the International Centre for Humanities, School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London

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