Support for university department in Sheffield as future is set to be decided today

The beleaguered Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield continues to receive support from those in academia and the public at large ahead of a meeting today to decide its fate.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 1:19 pm

Affected students and staff, together with other figures from other universities across the country, took part in a two-hour virtual rally on Friday, expressing their disgruntlement over the proposed closure which they deemed to be ‘unethical’.

PhD candidate at the Department of Archaeology, Nick Clarke, said “overwhelming support” through thousands of emails from all over the world have been received.

A student from the University of Chicago wrote: “The strength of archaeology as a discipline came from its bringing together of geographically and temporally wide-ranging topics in order to think critically about the human past, and the role of that past in our present.

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A rally held in support of the Department of Archaeology last month.

“The dispersal of archaeologists into other units prevents any such dialogue from taking shape in the lab, the classroom, or other field.”

The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists also weighed in on the issue, saying: “The department stands as an exemplar in terms of engagement with an impact and local communities, as well as a contributor to research with national and international significance.

“There are factors which deliver considerable impact, capitalising on the huge public interest in archaeology.

“We urge you to find a solution to the problem which does not throw away the proud history, and future potential, of archaeology at Sheffield "

University of Sheffield’s Executive Board (UEB) proposed the closure of the Department of Archaeology following an institutional review in late May, triggering nationwide outrage.

Declining student numbers were along the reasons cited for the suggested closure of the department.

Professor Umberto Albarella, one of the affected members of teaching staff at the department said: “I can only say that I hope that the University Council will be conscientious enough to properly scrutinise the proposal of the University Executive Board and, as a consequence, realise its vandalism, and the massive damage that is causing to the reputation of the University and the city alike.”

The university is expected to make its final decision public tomorrow.