Yesterday, I found out that UWE Bristol were announcing the potential shutdown of their Philosophy department to new students after this year.
I found this out from a tweet, which shared a petition launched by a just-graduated student yesterday. While I’m not sure how effective the petition might be, it has recieved 2700 signatures in a day. I encourage you to sign and share this petition, in the hope that it persuades whoever made this decision to change their mind. The decision to close the UWE philosophy course is counterproductive and destructive, for reasons I’ll detail below. More importantly, this decision was made abruptly, with little consultation or communication.
Whoever made this decision has acted rashly and callously, leaving a cohort of foundation year students (and their programme leaders) unsure of whether the course they are preparing for will even exist after their preparation year.No student or staff member deserves to be placed in this position.
So, why is this decision misguided? Below the cut are three major reasons:
Philosophy is one of UWEs most successful and highest-rated courses.
UWEs philosophy course offers a unique module other philosophy courses cannot match.
Philosophy is one of the most important subjects a university can offer, and philosophy graduates have essential skills and knowledge for today’s society.
Note: I’m not currently affiliated with UWE, aside from being an alumnus. I studied both of my degrees at UWE, and published my MSc research with supervision from UWE staff. I’m also not a philosophy student or graduate; my view of the value of philosophy comes from personal study and from how philosophy links to my degree subjects of psychology and science communication.
Yesterday, Xbox sent out round-up emails with stats about our year in Xbox. Usually, I’m interested in that kind of thing, but reading these stats was uncomfortable.
I’m in the top 5% for amount played, at about 1500 hours in 2015. I honestly didn’t expect to be that high a percentile, more like 15/20%. That number annoys me- at least 1/3 of those hours happened as deliberate escapism or inertia. What could I have done with them instead?
The first argument I’m using to justify it is “I don’t play as much as my friends do”. This is kind of true as amongst my group I had the lowest hours, and some had double the hours I did. However, the gap between my time and theirs is smaller than I expect. I’ve been the last person online at night quite a lot, even on nights where I was intending to do something else.
In the first year of undergraduate uni, most of us knew what psychology was, and knew what we were studying. If we didn’t, why would we have signed up to study it? Then the further we got through uni, the less sure we were about what psychology actually was, and what we were studying.
Now, the exact same thing is happening with sci-comm. Does this apply to lots of other subjects? Do geographers or chemists start uni and then discover they have no idea what geography or chemistry is?
The cause of this confusion was spending the last week reading up on “public engagement with science”, as it’s the topic for our first exam. So far, the more I read, the more frustrated I get. Everything seems like an infinite loop of dependent ideas. For one thing, even defining it is hard; “public”, “engagement”, and even “science” don’t have one clear meaning. Another is that public engagement with science is supposed to be a rejection of the “deficit model”- the idea that the public were empty containers, ignorant of science, who would understand science if teachers poured in the facts.
After a year of saving up, I’m back at UWE for a Science Communication Msc.
So far it looks like an amazing opportunity, but also an incredibly scary one. The sheer amount of things I’m going to learn this year, and the amount of new experiences I’ll get to have, feels awesome. On the first teaching block, just being in a room with people who care about similar topics and ideas was enough to get me feeling more motivated.
On the other hand, I’m not confident in my ability to progress. I feel a bit overwhelmed by how challenging many of the assignments will be for me. Also, I feel like I rushed into the course; the other students are already older and have professional experience, while I only have my first degree and no evidence of what I can do.
So right now, I’m not sure what I’m going to be doing, or whether I’ll succeed. And not knowing isn’t something I’m good at.
Note ; I’m not going to use any identifying information, so I’ll refer to each person by a letter+ number to tell them apart, as it does get rather confusing. The colour-coding is also just to keep track.
K1– university counsellor K2– university wellbeing practitioner L– a close friend who I needed to bring with me to some meetings. C1– first mental health assessor at the community services. C2– second assessor at the community services. C3– final assessor at the community services.
Community Mental Health Services
I was referred to the community mental health services (CMS for short) 3 separate times; once from the hospital, once when I finished seeing K1, and by K2 during the relapse I mentioned earlier. This meant I had 3 separate mental health assessments in just over a year.
Each time I was assessed like I’d never been there before, with a different staff member. This seemed really inefficient, especially as each asked me the same questions and mentioned me having used the services recently.
My first assessor C1 was friendly, and I was able to talk to her. However, while I went in assuming my issue was solely/mostly depression and I would be offered CBT, C1 threw a curveball by giving me a leaflet for Mentalization Based Therapy, a treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder.
Some notes for this series; I’m not going to be using any identifying information, so I’ll be referring to each person involved by a letter+ number to tell them apart, as it does get rather confusing. The colour-coding is also just to keep track. K1– university counsellor K2– university wellbeing practitioner L- one of my friends, who I needed to bring with me to some meetings. C1– first mental health assessor at the community services. C2– second assessor at the community services. C3– third assessor at the community services.
Although I’d had mental health difficulties for a long time, since probably age 10, I didn’t see any mental health services until I was 19. Accessing them wasn’t by choice; when a friend needed to take me to A&E, the hospital had to refer me to community services. My friend also booked a GP appointment for me, and contacted my university to see if they could help me. So I went from knowing nothing about mental health services to being seen by three types at once. It was a confusing period of time, because it felt like my only option was to be bounced around from person to person, and do everything they said, even though I wasn’t really sure of what was going on. Continue reading
One of the things that can stop people looking for help with mental health issues is the uncertainty of not knowing how they are referred and diagnosed, what kind of place they need to go to, or what person they need to see.
This is especially true for people under 18, who may not want to see anyone in case it means involving their families or sacrificing their ability to keep information confidential.
Online communities can answer these questions to an extent, giving some people’s experiences. But these sometimes focus on only the easiest experiences or the worst experiences in getting help.
Personally, my experience was in-between these extremes; some of the services I used were really accessible and useful while others made less sense. Similarly, some of the people I saw were really supportive and helpful, and some weren’t. So I thought I would explain my experience getting support, in case it’s helpful to anyone.