My new op-ed has been published today in The Guardian calling on the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council to remove the "Big Society" from its current delivery plan. The article can be found here. An excerpt:
"[. . .] We might ask: so what? The council will find new reviewers to replace those that resign. What's the big deal, we might wonder, with a few words in a delivery plan? These words matter. If we do nothing, then there may be real consequences for academics. The first is that political campaign slogans may become further embedded in future research council delivery plans on strategic research funding priorities and by other research councils beyond the AHRC. The second is that there may become institutional pressure – perhaps only indirectly – in favour of research relating to these slogans. It is telling that the council plan (and its several references to the 'big society') may well outlive the government.
Governments come and go, so it is important to stand up for clear and compelling principles such as this. This issue has united the academic community in support of a change.
Many have supported this campaign because so many passionately support the excellent work of the council. We care about its work and reputation for excellence. The ball is in its court."