17 May 2011

Defend academic freedom

As soon as David Cameron uttered the phrase 'Big Society' I made a mental note not to use it. Giving currency to such banal phrases also lends them credibility, and is now being used as a justification for the AHRC, the body that allocates research funding to the arts and humanities, assigning it a particularly priority. The question that remains to be tested is whether research proposals excoriating the shallow ambiguity of the phrase are funded as well as those that lauds its prescience and political astuteness.

I have already had my say about the loss of academic freedom that has resulted from the political pressure on the UK funding councils. Professor James Ladyman, head of philosophy at Bristol University writes:

'If we do not take a stand on this matter we will be betraying academic integrity, freedom and standards. The academic world has been watching this story unfold and I have received correspondence from all over the world about it. This is fight for the heart and soul of academia. Words matter, ideas matter and reason matters, and defending clarity of thought and expression and the political independence of research is our true strategic priority.'

Please take the time to sign the online petition.

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