UPDATE: Perhaps in response to widespread outcry, the University is now backpedaling. It is undertaking a review, rather than planning a closure. I imagine supportive comments would still be very useful.
Liverpool University has apparently decided to close its philosophy department, due solely to what it considers a poor showing in the latest Research Assessment Exercise, despite the fact that the department is a strong recruiter and a money-maker. Reasons for feminist philosophers to care: We’re philosophers, and we should care when a major university starts talking about shutting down its philosophy department. There’s an unusually high ratio of women: four out of ten full-time staff are women. There’s some important feminist philosophy going on. More generally it’s a department which values and promotes a diversity of approaches, including analytic, continental, Indian and Buddhist, and a department which works hard to widen access with continuing education programs. And, of course these last traits make it harder to do well on the RAE: widening access takes time, and unusual approaches are high risk when it comes to research assessment exercises.
So how can we help? Letters about the value of what Liverpool does and the importance of keeping it open are probably the most useful thing right now. If you have specialised knowledge of the work of any of the staff members and can speak for its high quality that would be great. The staff directory can be found here. Send your letters to Sir Howard Newby at Howard.Newby@liv.ac.uk.
You may also be interested to know that there’s a Facebook Group devoted to saving the departments targeted for closure.