Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Cuts to the Arts and Humanities - Another Perspective

As Arts and Humanities students, we all know the future is looking rather...grim.  The cuts will hit us hard, and, despite all the student protests on tuition fees and chatter in the press about the impending downfall of British education, it seems unlikely that the coalition government's new education plans can be derailed.

It is easy to look to the sciences with a bitter eye and a mouthful of venom. Those scientists, with their research "essential to society". They will be saved; we are expendable.  Bah humbug. The disclaimer of "I'm not curing cancer, but..." seems to be a common feature of explanations of research topics within the Arts and Humanities, at least within the circles I travel.  Our jealousy, yearning for the "easy life" - financially speaking -  of scientists, leads us to see ourselves apart from the scientists: not as equal part of the research community, different ends of the same spectrum, but radically alienated, forever at loggerheads. 

Here, Stefan Collini's article, in which he postulates a parallel universe in which scientists' purses have been raided, is of particular interest.  Collini highlights the effects of the Arts and Humanities cuts, dissecting the reasoning behind it with vigour.  But he also manages to showcase - at least in the mind of this reader, and several individuals in the comments section below the article - the need for solidarity in academia, and the research community.

Have a look for yourself, and let us know what you think -

If you cut a scientist's budget, does s/he not bleed too - or wail, and bitch and moan, and then go to the pub too? Shouldn't we all just work together to fight for world-class research, and make funding fair and equal?  Will this ever be possible?  Answers on a postcard, a comment, or in an email to thoughtsforward gratefully received.

Perhaps, too, we need to look within ourselves, our topics, departments, schools and institutions and figure out how we justify our research, its importance and its necessity, to ourselves. Find some confidence about our research, a well-formulated riposte when badgered about our expendability, a mantra to repeat in the library. And if we don't believe it fully for a while, who cares? Is the only way to convince others of our social and cultural importance as Arts and Humanities researchers to behave rather unacademically... by faking it until we make it?

-- Alicia

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