Richard Ashcroft

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.

Your sincerely

Richard Ashcroft

Professor of Bioethics

Queen Mary, University of London
School of Law

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