Saturday, 12 March 2011

The Impact of "Impact" on Humanities

There is a very good posting over at EAS Manchester addressing the ways in which the implementation of the Browne report will harm higher education in general and humanities in particular. It is useful to pull out from this posting the following crucial points that can sometimes get lost or receive insufficient emphasis:

1.The Arts and Humanities Research Council is directing funding for research into areas that have been determined for it by central government which includes research on the government idea of the so-called "Big Society".

2. The British Academy has ended the small grants scheme that was particularly heavily used in research in fine art.

3. There is increasing pressure to push humanities research that is connected to business, something that will ensure the marginalisation of research in all kinds of areas. In philosophy, it impacts on everyone who is not engaged in applied ethics programmes and even they will be pushed in a very specific direction.

4. There is virtually no support within the universities for the very notion of "impact", something on which the government is silent as it is has generally been in response to the criticisms that have been made of the Browne report's de-emphasis of humanities research in general.

It is clearly the case that humanities research, if carried out anywhere other than a select elite of institutions, will be increasingly difficult to sustain. Under these pressures, it is perhaps unsurprising that many of us are determined either to leave the university to pursue research elsewhere or are desperately trying to make it into the few places that will still deserve the name of "university".

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