Dear Professor Foskett
I am writing to record my surprise and dismay at proposals to close the Centre for Professional Ethics at Keele (PEAK), and to ask you to reconsider most carefully.
This Centre is arguably the leading centre for applied and practical ethics in the United Kingdom, with an outstanding international reputation. Only the centres at Oxford and Manchester come close. Neither of those centres have either the breadth of research areas within applied ethics, or the reputation for disinterested and open-minded scholarship, for which PEAK is famous. And neither of those centres have the track record of research funding, publication in volume and quality, training of healthcare professionals and philosophers at Master’s level, innovation in pedagogy and programme design, or concentration of young and mid-career scholars of quality and ambition.
All of this has been achieved with considerable effort, very largely due to external funding – unlike almost any other philosophy-based research group in the UK – and requiring enormous effort, commitment and flexibility on the part of its staff. The energy and sacrifices they have made in terms of travelling the country bringing ethics education and training to users, instead of expecting the users to come to them, has been second to none, and must have imposed considerable strain on staff and their family lives over the years.
To consider closing the Centre now shows that the University sets all of this quality, energy, and loyalty at practically nothing. It communicates a grim message to your other staff, who must by now be wondering what loyalty they can expect from their employer, and what promises they can actually take at face value. If a Centre which has done everything asked of it by the University, and more, can still face closure, then it is a sad day for Keele, and the university sector in the United Kingdom.
I must also record that to close this Centre would be disastrous for the field of applied ethics in the United Kingdom. But I do not expect that argument to hold any great interest for you, as it is your university’s interests which are your concern, quite properly.
Professor of Bioethics
Queen Mary, University of London
School of Law