Why UWE shouldn’t close their Philosophy department

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.

The petition is here: https://www.change.org/p/marc-griffiths-uwe-pro-vice-chancellor-and-executive-dean-of-health-and-applied-sciences-save-uwe-s-philosophy-programme

So, why is this decision misguided? Below the cut are three major reasons:

  1. Philosophy is one of UWEs most successful and highest-rated courses.
  2. UWEs philosophy course offers a unique module other philosophy courses cannot match.
  3. 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.

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Festival of Nature

After volunteering to help set up stands for the festival, I couldn’t not go to investigate.

Usually, I’m not particularly interested in events like festivals;in the same way that science centres tend to appeal only to an audience who would already be interested enough in the subject to visit science centres, festivals seem like a method of science communication that’s probably only preaching to the converted.

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UWE Open Access Publishing- 15th April

On Wednesday,  I got an email from my dissertation supervisor about a potentially-useful meeting based on research and what UWE’s Open Access policies are. This sounded interesting, so I went to investigate, and it actually did give me a lot of information about how researchers understand Open Access.

The meeting opened with a talk from one of the staff responsible for running UWE’s research repository. This talk focused on what the new research guidelines are around Open Access research, and what researchers need to do to comply with those rules.

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Writing Science, Block 3

We’re already in the final block of another module- this year is going so quickly.
I’m kind of disappointed that Writing Science is over so quickly, as it’s been my favourite module and I’m enjoying working with everyone.

It certainly went out with style though.

Thursday started with us all getting our magazines back, and being able to see each other’s for the first time. Seeing what everyone else had developed was a good experience, especially the differences in style and audience. I found this one incredible- if it was a published magazine in a shop, I would have bought it.

We had already got our marks and feedback, so I already knew that we’d done well. But I was surprised by what happened next. Our lecturer opened with¬†¬†“I’m going to embarrass somebody now”, then was really complimentary about our magazine, saying that he’d worked on professional magazines that weren’t as good. According to him, I have a talent for design.

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Writing Science Update

This week I handed in my third piece of coursework- a group project to create a science-based magazine- which was possibly the most fun I’ve ever had with a uni assignment.

After bouncing facebook messages around the group, and continually uploading revisions and comments, we eventually got a final set of pages we were happy with. Off to print them out then- which was surprisingly difficult.

No printers open in UWE that night could print the A4 pages properly, so we eventually found the low-tech solution of printing each page as on A3 and guillotining them down to the right size. Which would have worked well if I had any hand-eye coordination.

Apart from the myriad of issues actually getting the thing printed, I’m really happy with how the magazine turned out. Seeing it come out on proper paper, and how well the photos and colours work, it looks even better than on my laptop screen. It looks really professional, which isn’t how I’d normally describe anything I made, so I like the contrast.

A first-day draft of the magazine.
Another first-day draft
Another first-day draft.
A first-day draft of a magazine page

Some ideas from the drafts made on the first day- mostly the teal, purple, and orange colour scheme, and the file-divider-style sidebars- stayed during the entire process.

However, while the first-day drafts were very sparse, the final layout contained many more ideas and tried out different styles to suit the article.

Mostly, it all looks varied, but still looks like it belongs to one coherent magazine. Ultimately, I’m really happy with it (despite the annoyance of finding a typo 5 minutes after hand-in) and I’m hoping we get a good mark for it.

Writing Science, Block 2- We got published!

This weekend was the second block of Writing Science, and it was a challenging week (in a good way). The block was intense, and felt longer than 3 days as we were kept busy with loads of different tasks.

Thursday was the theory-focused day, as our main lecture was on framing science, while Friday was practical and focused on Magazine Anatomy. To learn about anatomy, we had to flatplan a magazine issue, which meant working out how to structure the issue, and what stories would be placed in what order to catch and keep people’s attention.

I liked the puzzle of planning out the route through the pages and deciding how many pages we would use to tell each story. That was a taste of how many decisions working in a field like this requires about almost every aspect. A lot of what we were talking about, like magazine structure and using a variety of features so people don’t get bored of one topic, will be useful for our group magazine projects too.

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