DANGER! Don’t host a major philosophy email list!

Your department might be closed.

As Istvan Berkeley, of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette** notes,

It is perhaps a strange irony that the two Philosophy programs in the world which host major mailing lists, with PHILOSOP here, and PHILOS-L at Liverpool, should both come under attack within a month or so of each other.

In Louisiana’s case, it’s the Regents, those much loved controllers of much in state higher ed, who proposed that philosophy be turned into a university service.  As quoted by Istvan, they say:

“…one cannot help but recognize that Philosophy as an essential undergraduate program has lost some credence among students. This is reflected in decreasing numbers not only in this program, but others across the country.” (p. 72/ p. 95 of the .pdf).
But he rightly notes:
Unfortunately, the claims here do not accord with the evidence. To cite a single example, *The New York Times*, a year ago ran an article describing the recent increases in philosophy enrollments (see

  A second puzzling feature about this decision is that it cannot be motivated by cost factors. Our philosophy program is one of the most efficient programs on our campus and the potential savings are, at most, a few thousand dollars. 



What can we do?  Here’s Istvan’s idea:

We are fortunate that our university administration appears to be supportive of the Philosophy program. The Regents are the ultimate authority, though. For these reasons then, may I politely suggest that the Board of Regents be made aware that their assessment of philosophy, as a declining academic discipline, is incorrect. Any other related thoughts might also be useful. Probably the best method of doing this is to send messages to Dr. Sally Clausen, who is the Commissioner of Higher Education. Her e-mail address is sclausen@uls.state.la.us. The last time they tried to take away our major, we were able to generate a petition with over 1,500 signatures from people around the State of Louisiana. This time we do not have the time to organize such an effort. So, support from philosophers around the world would be very much appreciated. However, as the time is short, please act as soon as you can.
 The Board meets TOMORROW!
**Thanks to NW for catching anerror here.

9 thoughts on “DANGER! Don’t host a major philosophy email list!

  1. Ok, so I just sent a mail.
    We have recently demonstrated that we can do things, lets see if we can do it again :)

  2. FAbuous! I hope the fact that the news has hit Europe makes it clear to them that it is not a simple issue.

    Thanks so much.

  3. sent. and mr lp (who is also an academic philosopher) is sitting next to me working on one of his own.

  4. I think I should note that Istvan Berkeley does not in fact work at LSU (Louisiana State University) but at the University of Louisiana Lafayette. (Department website: http://www.louisiana.edu/Academic/LiberalArts/PHIL/ ). It is UL Lafayette that hosts the Philosop list and I would thus assume UL Lafayette that is under threat of closure.

  5. My bad, Nicole. Thanks so much. I’ll correct the post.
    It’s not that it’s hard to believe that Louisiana has all these universities or anything…

  6. From Istvan on philosop:

    I want to thank all the people who sent e-mails in support of our program. There were too many to thank individually, but thank you all so much. I really appreciate it. It is a shame that it did not work out, but, as we say in Southwest Louisiana ‘C’est la vie’.

    They do actually say that sort of thing in Cajun country.
    This is very sad and worrying.

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