The BASR Committee have just sent a letter/email to the Principal of Stirling University in support of our colleagues there, and the discipline as a whole.
It can be downloaded as a PDF here, and is pasted below.
Dear Professor Gerry McCormac
As the executive committee of the British Association for the Study of Religions, we write to urge you to reconsider the closure of an independent department that is greatly valued nationally and internationally. We recognise the pressures on the university in the current economic climate but consider this to be precisely the wrong time to diminish scholarly debate about religion and religions. The academic study of religion has a key role within higher education institutions in its critical examination of the essential historical role of religions in culture and society. Moreover; the study of contemporary religions in a global perspective is a vital aspect of scholarly studies informing current geo-political debates, issues of religious identity, social justice and what it is to be human.
Colleagues and students from Stirling have been at the forefront of critical study and debate about religion, offering distinctive curricula and research programmes at each stage of the department’s evolution over nearly 40 years. Strong concern was expressed at the recent congress of the International Association for the History of Religions in Germany when delegates heard news of the proposed closure. The intersection of the growing importance of understanding religion and the quality of Stirling’s religion department – unique in the Scottish context, vital in the UK and of international significance – encourage us to hope that you will find ways to support the continued work of our esteemed colleagues.
Prof Graham Harvey, Open University, President of the British Association for Study of Religions
Dr Steven Sutcliffe, Edinburgh University, President Elect of the British Association for Study of Religions
Prof Bettina Schmidt, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Honorary Secretary of the British Association for Study of Religions
Dr Stephen Gregg, Wolverhampton University, Honorary Treasurer of the British Association for Study of Religions
Professor Malcolm MacLeod, Deputy Principal for Operational Strategy and External Affairs
Professor Richard Oram, Head of the School of Arts and Humanities