The Australian Catholic University has released a plan calling for the closure of its Medieval and Early Modern Studies program. Efforts are underway to save the program and the jobs of the seven people it employs.
Earlier this week, the university released an ‘Academic Draft Change Management Plan’ to restructure parts of the institution, which is home to 430 academic staff. In the plan they note how they are experiencing financial challenges that are affecting their ability to conduct research. The plan states:
The university is therefore at a critical juncture, where its research and education resources must better align, support and integrate with each other. The current research staffing profile has become, in some cases, poorly aligned to the university’s external educational offerings, both in terms of scale and discipline mix. An array of research is now conducted in areas where there is little or no commensurate education offered, while other major areas of education lack a relevant and identified research cluster.
The plan goes on to say that its Medieval and Early Modern Research Program would be disestablished, although provides no reason why this program was targeted. The Dianoia Institute of Philosophy and a program related to bone health research are also going to be disestablished according to the plan.
Megan Cassidy-Welch, the Director of the Medieval and Early Modern Research Program, has already written an open letter calling on the university to stop this plan. She writes:
At a university that prides itself on its Catholic mission and focus, it is therefore surprising that an integral area of study that contextualises, explains and advances its Catholic history and inquiry in all its historical and contemporary forms would be chosen to be cut. ACU’s ‘Faith and Values’ statement asserts that the university draws ‘inspiration from the “heart of the Church” building on the ancient tradition which gave rise to the first universities in medieval Europe. Retaining a dedicated research program in the areas that are fundamental to this inspiration is of critical importance.
Over 700 people have shown their support by co-signing the letter.
Many people have also posted on social media in support of keeping the medieval and early modern studies program and criticizing the university’s plan:
Please sign this open letter to help protect medieval & early modern studies at Australian Catholic University! Don’t let @ACUmedia dismantle a brilliant research program that explores, illuminates & critiques the premodern past #medievaltwitter #earlymoderntwitter 👇 https://t.co/ETG3bQdUet
— Megan Cassidy-Welch (@mcassidywelch) September 14, 2023
Over and over again, Medieval and Early Modern Studies in Australia demonstrates its quality, its relevance, and its ability to punch above its weight in national competitive funding. All reasons for @ACUmedia to keep it. Please share and support our brilliant MEMS colleagues. https://t.co/iApOOTqMpz
— Louise D'Arcens (@ArcensD) September 12, 2023
This shocking disestablishment of our MEMS team is part of a broader cut of 33 academic jobs across the university including inter alia the disestablishment of our entire philosophy institute as well. https://t.co/xRuCOHn4wR
— Matthew R. Crawford (@mattrcrawford) September 12, 2023
How are you a Catholic University without a major commitment to philosophy, medieval and early modern studies.
— Michael living my best life (@Michael29965368) September 14, 2023
So far I've seen two petitions doing the rounds re: the cuts at ACU, if you're wondering what you can do to support the scholars being treated so shabbily there
General NTEU petition: https://t.co/Dlp8VG5i4h
Medieval and Early Modern Studies open letter: https://t.co/X2KyPqxv9a
— André Brett (@DrDreHistorian) September 14, 2023
Top Image: Australian Catholic University Central Hall in Melbourne – photo by Canley / Wikimedia Commons