THE BIBLICAL STUDIES DEPARTMENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD is under threat of closure, as was abruptly announced last week. This is the only department in the UK devoted solely to biblical studies and it has been well known for many years for its innovative scholarship and its out-of-the-box thinking. This seems to have taken people completely by surprise, which does not say much for a consultation process. The University of Sheffield also seems to think that it can preserve the doctoral program in biblical studies, but it is hard to imagine that this kind of vote of no confidence won't damage its reputation and recruitment. The University seems at least to be listening to the protests, although they are also reportedly discontinuing recruitment to the undergraduate program for 2010-11. They would be well advised to work closely with the department to find strategies for increasing its financial contribution to the University rather than shutting the department down in the very optimistic hope that the same benefits can still be reaped from its postgraduate program.
There is further background at the Save Biblical Studies website and this call for action at the SBL Forum. There is also a Don't shut down Biblical Studies at Sheffield Facebook page.
UPDATE (16 October): Good news here.