Australian Catholic University has finalized its “Academic Change Management Plan” and the closure of the Dianoia Institute of Philosophy, proposed in the earlier version of the plan, is still part of it, along with the elimination of many of its faculty.Despite significant opposition to the proposal, voiced through multiple statements and petitions from various parties (see the updates on this post and the comments on it, for examples), it appears that very little in it has changed.
The final version of the plan still says that “the Dianoia Institute of Philosophy (DIP) will be closed with retained staff moved to IRCI [Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry].”
It says, further:
• All professional staff positions in DIP will be disestablished.
• Professional staff will be invited to participate in the placement process in the Operations Change Plan.
• The position of the Director of the DIP will be reviewed and the position will have a changed reporting line.
• The positions for all other academic staff in DIP will be disestablished.
• 2 Teaching and Research level D/E philosophy positions will be created in the IRCI’s new philosophy program
• 3 Teaching and Research level B/C philosophy positions will be created in the IRCI’s new philosophy program
• DIP’s impacted academic staff will be invited to participate in the EOI placement process for these new positions
The only change appears to be that six, rather than five positions will be created in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry. One of these is the new position for the (soon-to-be-former) director of the Dianoia Institute, Stephen Finlay. The remaining five positions are ones to which the other philosophers at Dianoia are invited to apply. The result is nine philosophers dismissed by ACU, rather than ten.
The report notes that “after the change, ACU will continue to have substantially more philosophers than the sector average.” However, it does not acknowledge the serious problem of ACU’s having induced over a dozen philosophers to leave established positions and move to Australia with the promise of permanent positions, only to fire most of them four (or fewer) years later and have them compete against each other for less desirable versions of their previous jobs.
The “summary of change feedback” section of the plan understates the actual criticisms leveled at ACU for it. For example, this section mentions
concerns that the proposed changes could have a detrimental effect on ACU’s international reputation, particularly in the fields of Arts and Humanities, and rankings more broadly. Respondents suggested that the disestablishment of programs (especially the Dianoia Institute of Philosophy and the Medieval and Early Modern Research Program IRCI) and the loss of researchers could hinder the university’s ability to compete globally and attract top-tier talent.
The university’s response admits that “reputation in these areas is likely to be affected and will need to be rebuilt,” but mainly talks about hits to its position in the Times Higher Ed rankings and gestures vaguely at how to improve them.
You can read the final version of the plan here.