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Letter in the Observer: The AHRC and the ‘Big Society’

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Letter in the Observer: The AHRC and the ‘Big Society’

An open letter organised by Dr Gideon Calder (University of Wales), signed by 188 academics, was printed in the Observer today. An article discussing the letterwas also published. The letter states:

“We were appalled that the Arts and Humanities Research Council intends to promote research on “the big society” as part of its current funding settlement. That the AHRC has apparently volunteered to do this is all the more craven. When academic research is used to promote party political ideologies its quality and value decline. It also threatens democracy and the constitution. While academic work may be partly paid for out of public funds, this ought not to be the same thing as working for the government. Our concern is independent of the merit of the idea of the big society, and would be the same if at stake were “the third way”, or anything equivalent.

We call upon the AHRC to explain its decision, to distance itself from the promotion of the big society agenda, and to state categorically that it is not seeking to ingratiate itself with current party political priorities. Should it not, we will strongly advise that those supporting the AHRC through their work consider whether they are happy still to do so.”

Read the letter (and see some of the signatories) here and the article here.

NB: The Observer article states that the letter was signed by only 69 academics. Though only a selection of names were printed, the actual number of signatories is 188

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