For the university to act on its proposal to close its anthropology and sociology discipline group would be, “an act of intellectual vandalism,” warn Debra McDougall (Uni Melbourne), Suzi Hutchings (RMIT) and Lisa Wynn (Macquarie U) on behalf of the Australian Anthropological Society
“The proposed changes also diminish the overall national social science research capacity in Australia by sacking some of the most accomplished scholars in the country,” they add.
UWA proposes reducing the two disciplines from eight to one staff as part of a savings plan for the School of Social Sciences (CMM July 12).
The university argues UG enrolments in the anthropology-sociology major were down 70 per cent 2015-20 and that the discipline area earns 6.5 per cent of the School’s external research funding (Geography generates 45 per cent).
However, McDougall, Hutchings and Wynn argue “the relatively high full-time staff to student ratio” does not justify abolishing courses, given “the high levels of student satisfaction reported by anthropology and sociology students.” As to research income, “anthropological and sociological research is great value for money. We don’t need huge grants to do innovative and important research.”
“Even in the context of serious budgetary shortfalls, we cannot understand why the school is proposing the destruction of one of the best anthropology and sociology discipline groups in the country, they write