RHS President Emma Griffin on ‘Confronting History’s Cuts and Closures in 2021’

2 November 2021

On the Society’s blog today, RHS President Professor Emma Griffin considers the cuts and closures that have affected UK History departments over the past 12 months.

Presently there’s close attention on Goldsmiths, University of London, where proposed cuts to History  threaten 7 full-time posts in a department of 14 historians. Goldsmiths follows similar cases earlier this year: at Aston University, where the History programme was saved from closure (though regrettably this was not the outcome for other departments), and at Kingston University where the History departments was closed and talented, full-time members of academic staff made redundant. Meanwhile, at London South Bank University (LSBU) the History Degree ended this April, as did Sunderland’s after the shutting of its faculty in 2020. Recent months have also seen threats to History provision and staffing at Chester, Hull and Leicester.

In this extended post, Emma Griffin outlines the Society’s response to proposed cuts or closures, and sets out the RHS’s current defence of History and historians at Goldsmiths. The post also asks that historians submit to the Society information on recent cuts, redundancies and closures, to enable the RHS to better understand the patterns of departmental change since the mid 2010s.

The challenges facing many History departments owe much to a removal of the cap on student intake, per institution. The result is considerable instability, disruption and vulnerability: declining figures at some universities, greatly enhanced numbers at others, and cycles of uncertainty for many more. This is an environment, Professor Griffin argues, that far exceeds the capacities of a single organisation or discipline, requiring closer collaboration by national organisations and learned societies in the humanities.

Read ‘Goldsmiths, Aston, Kingston, LSBU …. Confronting History’s Cuts and Closures in 2021′ on the RHS blog, Historical Transactions (2 November 2021).