I am writing to you concerning the proposed closure of the Centre for Professional Ethics at Keele (PEAK), and the proposed closure of the Philosophy programme.
I am external examiner on two of the MA programmes at the Centre, the Ethics of Policing and the Ethics of Social Welfare. I am also a former student at Keele University, having gained my PhD in Philosophy there.
With reference to PEAK, from my experience as external examiner on these courses, it appears to me that in PEAK you have a unique institution which is reaching out to the local community and having a significant impact upon it, and and in doing so giving the University a distinct and valuable role. The students on the programmes receive teaching of the highest standards, and as a result are producing work that will have a significant impact on their practices.
I cannot comment on the financial background, but would make the point that PEAK offers a valuable contribution to the university's reputation and position in the local community that cannot be measured in financial terms. To discard it would significantly reduce the University as an institution, even though it may save you financial costs.
At the international level, PEAK has a world-wide reputation for high quality research, and its members are highly respected in the academic community. Again, to discard it would be a severe blow to the standing of Keele as a university.
On the proposed closure of the Philosophy programme, again I cannot comment on the financial background, but what attracted me to work as an external examiner at Keele -- apart from my connection with the Philosophy programme -- was Keele's own history as an institution and the vision behind it. As you well know, Lord Lindsay's original vision was inspired by the need to respond to the catastrophe's of Fascism and the Second World War, which he saw as, partly, caused by a failure of communication between educated people. The Second World War saw the perversion of scientific knowledge and the growth of unethical political systems, and the idea behind Keele was to counter these developments by offering a balance of specialist expertise with a wider understanding of ethics and culture.
I quote Lord Lindsay straight from your own alumni website: "If we are going to try and keep a democratic country and maintain understanding of one another, we have to send out people from our universities who can do the technical stuff and who at the same time have an understanding of political and social problems and of the values that lie behind them". At my induction as an external examiner, that vision was presented to me as still an essential part of Keele's meaning as an institution, and I found that inspiring and moving.
It seems to me that Philosophy is an essential part of that original vision, and PEAK itself expresses it most fully. To close these programmes would be extremely damaging to Lord Linday's founding idea, and to the very idea of Keele as a unique educational institution.
I would urge you to avoid the closure of these programmes.
Professor of Applied Philosophy
School of Health and Social Sciences
University of Wales, Newport