Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Categorizing Jobs for Philosophers

The American Philosophical Association produces a publication called "Jobs for Philosophers" (and, no, the plural is not meant ironically) that lists pretty much every open academic position in the field. When you have a line to fill, you run an ad in the JFP.

As long as I can remember, it was organized by region. It listed in alphabetical order, jobs in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West in separate sections. Glancing at this year's JFP, I noticed that the geographical divisions were gone. This makes sense since no one really searches by region anymore. Teaching gigs are so tough to land and often so specialized that you take a spot in your field (or something you can reasonably pretend to be your field) wherever you can get it. So the old regional categorization is meaningless in today's world.

But surely there is some way to organize the positions that would be helpful. After all, there are very different kinds of jobs in philosophy and very different kinds of folks looking. The senior endowed positions at Princeton are not looking for the same folks as a small teaching college in Kentucky.

Would it make sense to organize them by sub-field? Are the sub-sub-sub-fields so scattered or jobs that cover a range so regular that this would be impossible? Could we arrange it by teaching load? A 1-2 job clearly has a different audience from a 4-5 job (that's classes taught per semester, for the non-academics). Should we have one section for R1s, another for r2s, one for liberal arts colleges, and another for teaching universities? Would that make a classist academic structure even worse?

What would be a sensible way to categorize the jobs in Jobs for Philosophers?