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Report of the General Board on the reorganization of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences

The GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. The General Board have had under consideration proposals put forward by the Faculty Board of Social and Political Sciences for the reorganization of the current single Department of Social and Political Sciences. After consultation with the Council of the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences, the General Board have agreed to propose the establishment of three Departments within the Faculty alongside the existing Centre for Family Research.

2. In the period since the General Board Review of the Department of Social and Political Sciences in 1998, the Faculty Board of Social and Political Sciences have overseen a programme of strategic development to implement the recommendations of the Review. Underlying a number of the Review's recommendations was a recognition that the management of a single Department which covered a number of academic disciplines of increasingly distinctive characters, which was spread across a number of locations, and which had different patterns of interaction with the rest of the University, presented a challenge. This assessment is endorsed by the General Board which have, for a variety of reasons, been maintaining a dialogue with the Faculty and have concluded from it that the current governance structure in the Faculty does not effectively guarantee sufficient accountability. In July 2001 the Board requested the Faculty to review their governance arrangements. In the light of their work to date, and having explored different models for the Faculty's future structure through extensive consultation both within the Faculty, including with students through student representatives, and with other interested parties, the Faculty Board have concluded that the most advantageous arrangement would be for the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences to be divided into three Departments and a Centre: a Department of Politics, a Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, a Department of Sociology, and the Centre for Family Research.

3. When the original Social and Political Sciences Tripos was introduced in response to the Boys Smith Committee Report of 1968, the constituent disciplines included not only those present within Social and Political Sciences, but also those present in a number of other Faculties and Departments in the University including History, Economics, Psychology, Linguistics, and Anthropology. The pattern of work in those disciplines offered a variety of connections with the work of those in Politics, Social and Developmental Psychology, and Sociology within Social and Political Sciences, and the conception of a broad ranging educational and research programme, which traded on these interconnections in a variety of ways, was appropriate.

4. Social and Political Sciences attained Faculty status in 1988; since then the Faculty has seen its staff numbers triple, and its student numbers quintuple. Such growth has encouraged the definition of the subject around its own three disciplines; the disciplines themselves have achieved their own distinctive qualities, through developments within each discipline (for example, in approaches to research), in the wider academic world, and in the pattern of appointments which have been made to the individual disciplines. The cognate disciplines have developed too. It is now appropriate to find a structure that takes advantage of this highly successful growth.

5. Despite these distinctive qualities there is still extensive collaboration in teaching and research across the disciplines. The General Board have been assured by the Faculty Board that the proposed reorganization will not be at the expense of its interdisciplinary activities. As a result it is expected that difficulties connected with the allocation of resources, strategic decisions with respect to the teaching programme, relations with other institutions, and the uneven distribution of student numbers will be more effectively handled.

6. It is anticipated that the proposed structure will facilitate and strengthen internal interdisciplinarity from the basis of clearly identified disciplines. It will also strengthen each departmental unit, which should then be better placed to exploit further opportunities for future collaborations with other groups, centres, or institutions with similar or complementary interests, allowing the development of interdisciplinarity with cognate disciplines - for instance Politics with History and the Centre for International Studies, Social and Developmental Psychology with Experimental Psychology, and Sociology with the Judge Institute of Management Studies.

7. The new Faculty would comprise (1) the Faculty, (2) the three Departments, and (3) the Centre for Family Research. Proposals, which require the approval of the University, for the future assignment of existing Professorships and Readerships to one of the new Departments are set out in Recommendation II. Subject to the approval of this Report, the General Board will reassign each of the remaining offices, with the concurrence of the present holders, also to one of the new Departments. The establishment of University offices in each Department so constituted will initially be as follows: the Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, 4; the Department of Politics, 6; the Department of Sociology, 5; the Faculty's Library, Computing Section, and some members of its administrative staff will remain in the Faculty, since their duties concern the Faculty as a whole: other members of the administrative staff and research staff will be reassigned to the relevant Department. The reassignment of such posts and their current holders has been discussed with the individuals concerned and agreed in principle, subject to the approval of the Report's recommendations. The Faculty Board would be chaired by a member external to the Faculty. Representation on the Council of the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences would be via one of the Heads of Department or the Director of the Centre for Family Research on a rotational basis.

8. The Faculty will retain a single Tripos. Part I of the Tripos will remain multidisciplinary while Part II will be taught, as now, according to departmental discipline or a combination of two disciplines or interdisciplinary options. Formal responsibility for the Tripos will remain with the Faculty Board, receiving advice and recommendations from a Faculty Teaching Committee, a Faculty Director of Undergraduate Education, the Departments, and the Centre. Practical responsibility for the content of taught courses located in a particular Department will rest with that Department. Overall responsibility for Graduate Students will remain at Faculty level with the Degree Committee. Graduate Students will be assigned to the appropriate Department or the Centre.

9. The Faculty Board propose that there should be a Faculty Teaching Committee dealing with Faculty-wide decisions and policies concerning undergraduate teaching and learning and the quality of the Faculty provision. In order to ensure that there remains a Faculty forum where students can raise and discuss matters of concern about the provision of teaching and learning facilities, there will be a Faculty Staff/Student Committee for Undergraduates, the deliberations of which will be relayed, where appropriate, to the Teaching Committee. There will be an equivalent Faculty-wide forum for Graduate Students.

10. The Faculty Board believe that departmentalization will have a beneficial effect on its relationships with the Colleges, by clarifying the Faculty's structure and by more clearly delineating where responsibilities lie.

11. The General Board have given careful deliberation to the above proposal and consider that the establishment of three Departments will retain the flexibility and opportunity for future regrouping or addition at some future date which was recognized when the Faculty and Department were originally established (Reporter, 1987-88, p. 173). The Council of the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences concur with this proposal.

12. Some modest costs to the University, arising from the extra payments to the Heads of Departments that would be required, would be incurred by the adoption of the proposals outlined in this Report.

13. As a consequence of the proposal to reorganize the Faculty, amendments to certain regulations will be required. These amendments are listed in the Schedule attached to this Report.

14. The General Board recommend:

I. That the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences be reorganized into the following Departments and Centre, with effect from 1 October 2003: a Department of Politics, a Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, a Department of Sociology, and a Centre for Family Research.

II. That, with effect from the same date, the following Professorships and Readerships be reassigned:

the Professorship of Sociology (1985), to the Department of Sociology;

the Professorship of Sociology (2001), to the Department of Sociology;

the Professorship of Political Theory, to the Department of Politics;

the Professorship of Psychology in the Social Sciences, to the Department of Social and Developmental Psychology;

the Professorship of Family Research, to the Department of Social and Developmental Psychology;

the Professorship of International Politics, to the Department of Politics;

the Professorship of Psychoanalysis and Gender Studies, to the Department of Social and Developmental Psychology;

the Readership in Quantitative Sociology, to the Department of Sociology;

the Readership in Social Sciences, to the Department of Sociology;

the Readership in Economic Sociology, to the Department of Sociology.

9 July 2003ALEC N. BROERS, Vice-ChancellorANDREW CLIFFROGER PARKER
 SARAH AIREYM. J. DAUNTONKEITH PETERS
 N. O. A. BULLOCKMALCOLM GRANTKATE PRETTY
 H. A. CHASEDON MACDONALDM. SCHOFIELD
 JESSICA CHILDSA. C. MINSONS. J. YOUNG

SCHEDULE

Subject to the approval of the recommendations in this Report, the General Board have approved amendments to certain regulations, with effect from 1 October 2003, as follows;

(a) The general regulations for the constitution of the Faculty Boards (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 561):

SCHEDULE 1 The composition of the Faculty Boards

By amending the entry for the Faculty Board of Social and Political Sciences so as to read:
Faculty BoardClassesTotal
Social and Political Sciences (a)(i)
3
(a)(ii)
2
(b)
2
(c)
8
(d)
2
(e)
8
(f)
3
Total
28

SCHEDULE III Membership of Faculty Boards in class (e)

By inserting under holders of specified officers the following entry for the Faculty Board of Social and Political Sciences: The Director of the Centre for Family Research.

(b) The regulations for Departments and Heads of Departments (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 567):

By replacing the entry for Social and Political Sciences with the following:

Politics A person appointed in accordance with Regulation 2.

Social and Developmental Psychology A person appointed in accordance with Regulation 2.

Sociology A person appointed in accordance with Regulation 2.

(c) The regulations for payments additional to stipend (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 669)

By removing 'Social and Political Sciences' from Schedule 4 of the payments to Heads of Department and including the following Departments and Centre in Schedule 5: Politics, Social and Developmental Psychology, Sociology, Family Research (Centre).


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Cambridge University Reporter, 23 July 2003
Copyright © 2011 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.