Representatives of profession bodies representing the most senior researchers and academics in the fields of belief, history and sociology have expressed dismay about plans to dismantle the small, world-renowned department which deals with religion at the University of Stirling.
The European Association for the Study of Religions (EASR), a regional member body of the prestigious International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR), has released a statement expressing concern at what the university is doing.
The Bulletin for the Study of Religion, published by Equinox, has reproduced the North American Association for the Study of Religion’s statement of support for the religion department at Stirling.
Opposition to cuts and possible closure of the programme has also come from the Critical Theories and Discourses on Religion Group of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), the British Association for the Study of Religion (whose letter was published in the Scotsman newspaper), the British Sociological Association Sociology of Religion Study Group (SOCREL) and others.
Lord Stewart Sutherland, one of Britain’s leading educationists, and Richard H Roberts, latterly Visiting Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at Stirling University, are among a host of senior academics expressing public and private concern.
Non-religious bodies and practitioners and from a range of belief backgrounds have stressed how important an experienced, well-established department that looks at religion critically and broadly is at a time when religious activity and conviction is at the heart of a range of global issues, from violence to nationalism and economics.
Plans to close the religion department at Stirling were revealed in the press in August 2015.
The university has given general assurances to existing students and has attempted to dismiss media reports and representations from across the globe, but it is still pressing ahead with staff redundancies and is not commenting on specific plans for its courses and the removal of vital specialist provision.
Students have told Ekklesia that they are extremely concerned and upset at the way in which the matter is being handled, and the way in which their concerns and those of others are being treated.
Two local Members of the Scottish Parliament, Bruce Crawford MSP and Keith Brown MSP, have also written to the university principal to ask about the future of the religion programme.
Ekklesia has a partnership with the Critical Religion project which originated from staff at the University of Stirling.
* Links to all the documents mentioned can be found at: http://criticalreligion.org/events/august-2015-religion-at-stirling-unde...
Also from Ekklesia:
* Stirling University students dissatisfied over future of religion department - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/22108
* Union negotiates, confirming continued threat at Stirling: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/22029
* University of Stirling to close pioneering religion department: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/22005
* Widespread dismay at university plans to end religion courses: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/22008
* Religion, higher education and critical thinking: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/22009
* Response but no clarity on Stirling University religion department: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/22012
* Petition launched to save religion department at Stirling University: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/22018