Professor Simon Franklin, Head of School of Arts and Humanities: Save the Modern Greek degree course at Cambridge University
As of October 2013, the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages will suspend the teaching of Modern Greek as a full Tripos language on financial grounds. If the proposed changes go ahead, no student will emerge from Cambridge with any more than a cursory knowledge of Modern Greek language and culture. Cambridge is one of only three universities in the United Kingdom which offer a full undergraduate degree course with a specialisation in Modern Greek.
Modern Greek is a language of the European Union, and far more than a sequel to Greece’s ancient past. The language is spoken by at least 13 million people today in Greece, Cyprus and diaspora communities in numerous parts of the world. Cambridge has represented excellence in Modern Greek Studies for 75 years; the three holders of the Lewis-Gibson Lectureship have established Cambridge as an academic centre of international renown. Greek in Cambridge produces an annual publication, possesses an active research department and offers extra-curricular language learning opportunities to undergraduates and post-graduates alike. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, the joint submission of the Modern Greek Section and the Faculty of Classics was recognised as the strongest in the UK for this unit of assessment (Classics, Ancient History, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies). This will all cease if these changes go ahead.
Now, more than ever, Cambridge needs to be producing academics with an understanding of contemporary Greece. Modern Greek is a thriving subject at Cambridge; the Modern and Medieval Languages Faculty should reflect this in their decision.
We urge the Medieval and Modern Languages Faculty in the strongest possible terms to reconsider their projected suspension of Modern Greek as a degree subject.