I don’t normally wade into academic politics, but I am becoming increasingly angry at the symptoms of a university system in chaos. If you haven’t heard about King’s College and their decision to axe the only chair of Paleography in the Anglophone world, then read about it here and here. There is also a Facebook Group in response to the decision.
I think that everyone out there should be worried about this disturbing trend, regardless of what discipline they are in. My university is currently dealing with similar problems after deciding to delete our European studies department. They are reforming our curriculum in 2012, but I have never seen a department with such a close-knit group of students, and it saddens me to see it go.
My message of the day is this: students and lecturers of the world unite! Keep an eye out for ill-advised cost cutting measures, and make your voice heard. Included below is the text of the letter that I sent to King’s about their decision.
Title: King’s College Palaeography Chair: Expression of Concern
Dear Professor Trainor,
As a concerned medievalist, I am sending this email to express my concern regarding the recent decision to ‘disinvest’ the King’s College paleography chair currently occupied by David Ganz. The study and interpretation of primary source documents is a crucial tool for all students of the Arts. Without new facsimiles, new translations and new ideas, future scholarship in diverse fields will be irreparably disrupted.
As the only position of its kind in the English speaking world, the King’s chair of paleography acts as a leader and exemplar that will be sorely missed. Financial hardship is no excuse for the wholesale destruction of our future.
As a young researcher, I look to a future in which the facilities necessary for me to do my work are absent with undisguised disgust and horror. Economies rise and fall, money comes and goes, yet knowledge is eternal. It is the true wealth of culture, and must be preserved at all costs. When the current economic crisis is long since passed, we will look back at the university system with a profound sense of loss.
I hope that you will take the time to count my voice amongst the many others that will be raised over this ill-advised decision. All universities are created for and exist for the the sole purpose of preserving and augmenting the sum total of human knowledge, not to maintain a share portfolio of balance a budget, a fact that all university administrations should keep in mind in these troubled times.
James Smith, PhD candidate