Against Closure of Portuguese Course in Cambridge sign now

CLOSURE OF PORTUGUESE IN CAMBRIDGE

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of
Cambridge has
proposed the closure of Portuguese in the Tripos of Modern and
Medieval
Languages, and this proposal has been approved by the Faculty of
Modern and
Medieval Languages. The Tripos is the format under which separate
subjects
are studied in Cambridge. The languages studied within the Faculty of
Modern and Medieval Languages Tripos at present are Dutch, French,
German,
Italian, Modern Greek, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish.

It is fast becoming standard good practice for those Spanish or
Hispanic
Studies departments that offer Portuguese, Brazilian and/or Lusophone
African Studies in the UK to have more than one member of their
permanent
academic lecturing staff contributing to Portuguese and Brazilian
Studies
(for example: Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool,
Manchester,
Nottingham, Southampton). In addition to this, King's College, London
and
Oxford have separate departments dedicated to Portuguese, Brazilian
and
Lusophone African Studies. Cambridge is now one of a minority of
universities in the United Kingdom which continues to have only one
full-time member of staff in Portuguese, with another one
contributing to
Portuguese Linguistics within Romance Philology. Understaffing in
Portuguese was the main reason advanced for the proposal to axe it
as a
full subject under Tripos.

At present, papers on Portuguese Language, Linguistics, Literature,
History
and Culture of Portugal, Brazil and Portuguese-speaking Africa,
covering
periods from the 16th century to the present day are taught at Tripos.
Under this proposal, Portuguese will cease to exist as a full Tripos
subject, and become reduced to a single paper combining Language and
Literature, with minor additional components inserted in one Spanish
and
one Spanish Latin American paper, and in a Faculty M.Phil. Portuguese
Linguistics will be entirely abolished. No more students will be
admitted
to study Portuguese as a Tripos subject in Cambridge from 2008.

This proposal was initiated not by the University but by the Head and
Deputy Head of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, under no
pressure
and at no suggestion from either the University or the Faculty of
Modern
and Medieval Languages.

Portuguese in Cambridge is a thriving and growing subject. It is
vigorous
in terms of research and publications and its undergraduate student
numbers
have grown exponentially by 500-600\% in the last ten years. Prior to
the
arrival of the current Lecturer (Reader) in Portuguese there had
never been
a postgraduate (Ph.D.) student in Portuguese in Cambridge. At
present, one
third of the Ph.D. students in the Department of Spanish and
Portuguese are
working in a Portuguese area. Past postgraduates all now hold academic
posts either in Russell Group universities or in major universities
in the USA.

Portuguese has been twice singled out for praise by University
Reviews of
the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages, and it is officially
regarded
by the Faculty and by the University as one of its success stories.
It has
thrived under conditions of chronic understaffing, difficulties
regarding
severe illness of staff and overwork. It is growing in student
applications
and it is fully research active.

Within its current economic climate, the University of Cambridge will
almost certainly go along with a proposal for closure instigated from
within the Department itself. The decision by a top world university
to axe
Portuguese, the fifth world language, the language of the worlds 11th
economy (Brazil) and a European Union Language is a momentous one,
and a
dangerous precedent.

If you wish to object and express your views on
the proposed closure of Portuguese at Cambridge, please sign this petition and if you want to take further action, write to the
Vice-Chancellor:

Prof. Alison Richard, Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge, The
Old
Schools, Cambridge CB2 1TT
U.K.

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Jimmie LambBy:
Entertainment and MediaIn:
Petition target:
University of Cambridge

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