In your recent presentation to a conference on Global Education in Dubai you yourself stated that: “Without the Humanities, we may lose the facility of criticising and probing, of isolating the deeper meanings and implications of public positions and assertions, or of testing statements of certainty against evidence to the contrary.” You went on to quote approvingly Bhabha’s argument against the assumed immutability of national identities and gave an example from your own experience of talking to a student “from Sofia [who] asked me why the British hate her and other Bulgarians so much.” The answers to such questions are to be found in the University departments that you are planning to shut.
The University of Salford has a 40-year-old track record of teaching applied languages and an impressive network of alumni are playing a key role in the translation and interpreting profession as well as in academic life in the UK and abroad. The international reputation of its postgraduate programmes in translation and interpreting was confirmed by their admission to the prestigious European Masters in Translation’s Network. At national level the University of Salford is currently leading the Routes into Languages National Network for Translation and is a partner in the Routes’ National Network for Interpreting.
Translating and Interpreting are central to globalization, both at the local level in providing services for the refugee and migrant communities (such as the participants in your recent Our Home Our Salford conference), as well as in small and multinational businesses – while you can buy in the language of your supplier, if you want to sell you must use the language of your customer.
If your new cooperation with Media City UK is going to be a monolingual one, then your graduates are not going to be able to compete in a multilingual digital world: from websites to video games, from software development to online translation, from journalism to tourism – monolingualism is a thing of the past. Competence in at least one foreign language along with the intercultural experience gained by living and working in a different linguistic and cultural environment are indispensable graduate attributes in a globalised world.
Intercultural competence does not just mean knowing the importance of punctuality in Japan or how to behave in a mosque – although such knowledge can be vital. It actually entails a profound understanding of how different people and cultures conceptualize their place in the world and, by extension, how we conceptualize our own. In this way, the Humanities, and in particular foreign language study, provide us with the intellectual tools to grow as human beings, to develop our critical faculties and to become reflective and responsible global citizens.
We would therefore urge you to reconsider plans that would greatly diminish the intellectual standing of your University and limit the ambitions of your students.
The Executive Council, the International Association of Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS)
Professor Juliane House (Hamburg, Germany) [President]
Professor Mona Baker (Manchester, UK) [Co-Vicepresident]
Dr. Şebnem Susam-Saraeva (Edinburgh, UK) [Co-Vicepresident]
Professor Paul Bandia (Montreal, Canada)
Professor Sanjib Bhattacharya (Mumbai, India)
Professor Martha P.Y. Cheung (Hong Kong SAR)
Professor Farzaneh Farahzad (Teheran, Iran)
Professor Theo Hermans (London, UK)
Dr. Séverine Hubscher-Davidson (Birmingham, UK)
Dr. Dorothy Kenny (Dublin, Ireland)
Professor John Milton (Săo Paulo, Brazil)
Professor Jeremy Munday (Leeds, UK)
Dr. Sharon O’Brien (Dublin, Ireland)
Dr. Maeve Olohan (Manchester, UK)
Dr. Luis Pérez-González (Manchester, UK)
Dr. Hala Sharkas (Al Ain, United Arab Emirates)
Dr. Şehnaz Tahir-Gürçağlar (Istanbul, Turkey)
Charles Tiayon (Buea, Cameroon)
Dr. Rebecca Tipton (Manchester, UK)
Marija Todorova (Skopje, Macedonia)
Professor Jenny Williams (Dublin, Ireland)