News Just In: Scrapping of Philosophy program sparks boycott of Middlesex University

by Anna Blanch on May 26, 2010

Yesterday, May 25, John Protevi posted a petition on GoPetition calling for the Academic boycott of Middlesex University until the restoration of the recently scrapped Philosophy program. The petition currently has 92 signatures. More information about the efforts to save the program can be found at this Web site:

John Protevi is professor of French studies at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. He has written articles about Middelsex University’s Philosophy department and the campaign to save it Times Higher Education and Why Middlesex Matters at Inside Higher Ed.

The information attached to the Petition reads as follows: 

Background (Preamble):
On April 26 Middlesex University announced the closure of its highly-ranked and well-respected philosophy program. This closure has no philosophical or pedagogical rationale, and in fact it has no economic justification either: far from losing money, after covering its salary and administrative costs the program contributes more than 50% of its revenue to the central management of the university. But the management unilaterally decided that it could make more money by investing its funds elsewhere. (For an overview of the situation see

Despite wide-spread international protest of the closure in the form of thousands of letters and petition signatures, the management has shown no signs of reconsidering its decision. Instead it seems dedicated to censoring all dissent: on May 21 it suspended three faculty members and several students for the ‘crime’ of campaigning to save their own courses and jobs.
It is time, then, for supporters of Middlesex Philosophy to take a more active stance.

The Petition itself reads:
We the undersigned therefore commit ourselves to an academic boycott of Middlesex University until it shows evidence of full reinstatement and continued support for its philosophy program.

Prior to such reinstatement, we will refuse to act as external examiners or to deliver talks at the school. We will encourage colleagues to reject job offers at Middlesex. We will refuse to visit campus for any reason other than to protest the decision to close the philosophy program. We will, in short, cease to engage with Middlesex as a legitimate academic institution.

 Middlesex University is not the only UK University to air plans and to follow through on the wholesale decimation of Humanities departments. This however, is the most direct response from the academic community that I’ve seen. In this job market, the request to reject job offers seems a particularly tall ask but I wonder if that’s not the spirit the petition authors were aiming for.

HT: Yann A-T

UPDATE: by 10:21 GMT on 27 May, the number of signatures is now 669.

Anna Blanch is founder of Goannatree, and a PhD student in the Institute of Theology, Imagination, and the Arts at St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews, Scotland.

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