major British newspaper (to be determined)
United Kingdom

The government has announced large cuts to the funding of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Whole departments are to be closed. One persistent theme in the framing of this decision is the claim that these subjects are not strategically important and do not contribute economic value.

As researchers and teachers in the natural sciences, we know that the balance of teaching and research subjects at each university cannot be remade by a product-oriented central plan, and we strongly believe that our universities are indivisible.

Healthy natural science teaching and research are inseparable from healthy humanities and social sciences; witness the tremendous investment of world-leading technology universities such as Caltech and MIT in their schools of humanities and social sciences.

Computer scientists collaborate with linguists and psychologists on translation software; mathematicians collaborate with economists on financial models; social scientists collaborate with biologists to guide the application of genomics discoveries; and all depend on philosophers and historians to establish the foundations of their subjects. Students who are preparing for the challenges of the 21st century need to be exposed to this thriving interdisciplinarity.

Lord May, former president of the Royal Society, expressed this well in 2002: “Science does no more than setting the stage, providing and clarifying the choices. Our values and feelings about the society we wish to build, in this wiser world of tomorrow, then will write the play. But whence the values? What shapes them? What guides the subsequent choices? These are hugely difficult, yet utterly fundamental questions. Ultimately the answers ... will illustrate better than anything else just how indivisible is the continuum from the arts and humanities through to the sciences. Studies in the arts and humanities continue, in many different ways, to illuminate the mechanisms of social interaction and cohesion in human institutions.”

We, the undersigned scientists, who are concerned with the long-term viability of British research and teaching, urge the government to reconsider its hasty plans to cut funding for higher education in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

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The UK scientists oppose cuts in the Arts and Humanities petition to major British newspaper (to be determined) was written by David Karlin and is in the category Education at GoPetition.