Advancement rests on research record

May 28, 2015

You report that a black philosopher claims that he was rejected for a full-time job because his proposed black studies course was too challenging to white-dominated academia (“New MA ‘too critical of white hegemony’ ”, News, 21 May). I find Nathaniel Adam Tobias

Coleman’s protestations utterly unconvincing: there is no way that anyone with a two-year-old PhD and not a single peer-reviewed publication could be offered a permanent job at University College LondonColeman should consider himself very lucky to have been offered a coveted postdoc at a prestigious institution with his research record.

Priscilla Ahern
Via timeshighereducation.co.uk

 I am a philosophy student at UCL and I am disappointed that Coleman’s contract will not be renewed. This is especially unfortunate considering that philosophy is a discipline with such a dismal record of recognising the work of non-white scholars.

Klara Andersson
Via timeshighereducation.co.uk

 I think this is a prime example of the issues in academia highlighted in the “Why is my curriculum white?” movement. Coleman could provide a much-needed critical voice to another unquestioned curriculum (and institution) that maintains colonial white discourses (and faces). And his proposed MA would begin to allow for wider perspectives to enter this “prestigious institution”. However, it seems that UCL’s pledge towards “further progress in diversity” is contingent on its remaining inoffensive to existing privileged [scholars]. As a former member of staff at UCL, I am disappointed. As a woman of mixed race, I am offended. And as someone who would jump to be part of that MA course, I am heartbroken.

Sara Felix
Via timeshighereducation.co.uk

 The #whitecurriculum campaign has had more impact than most peer-reviewed articles ever have. The fact that UCL will not give Coleman a permanent position, despite his demonstrable expertise and influence in instigating a public debate on white supremacy within philosophy and UK academia as a whole, is just more evidence of the problem that his work (and the work of all academics and students challenging institutional racism in academia) seeks to address.

Terese Jonsson
Via timeshighereducation.co.uk

 Let me see if I can get this straight:

1) Academia needs more black/non-white voices – agreed.

2) Philosophy is too white – agreed.

Here’s the bit where it all falls to pieces for me. Because of the above points, an academic who has failed to publish a single peer-reviewed piece should be given a full-time permanent job without a competitive application process? That is what is being argued here. Challenging and breaking down racism in the academy isn’t done by rewarding mediocrity or by “jobs for the boys” because, ironically, simply giving a job to this man reinforces [higher education’s] gender problem. Someone applying for a full-time lecturer post at my lowly post-92 wouldn’t even get shortlisted without publications. Also, people need to knock off with “demonstrated expertise” – we have a way of demonstrating that in the academy. At the moment people are just relying on the idea of false authority – “he’s an expert because we say he’s an expert”.

Alan Smithee
Via timeshighereducation.co.uk

 A strong peer-reviewed publication record is regarded as essential for getting a permanent job, and by such criteria Coleman would be unlikely to get a position at UCL or anywhere else. However, let’s not pretend that number of publications is an infallible or objective measure. Also, I’d like to know more about the process by which UCL decided against running the proposed MA. Was that to do with Coleman’s publication record? It’s a separate issue really, and I don’t think one can deny that UCL, like the academy in general, is reluctant to confront the issues that Coleman deals with in his teaching and non peer-reviewed publications.

Harry Stopes
Via timeshighereducation.co.uk

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest