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« Real jobs in philosophy part 2: Kristina Meshelski, working at California State University Northridge | Main | Real jobs in philosophy part 3: Eric Schwitzgebel (UC Riverside) »

03/22/2016

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Kevin

Another great set of advice, Helen.

Anon Tenured Faculty

While I think there is a lot of good advice here, I don't necessarily agree with 8... ``Universities are corporatized entities, that do not care about your personal wellbeing or development, or only do so only to the extent that these affect how you perform in the job. As a consequence, you do not owe your institution fealty or loyalty. ''

How little your university cares about your well-being or development probably depends on the university you work with, and it would be pretty sad to be in a permanent post somewhere and feel this way about your institution. More than that, tenured faculty have special obligations to make the places they work better communities, in virtue of having a permanent stake in those intuitions. You may not owe your university ``fealty'' (I don't even think I owe my colleagues fealty per se). But if I am a permanent member of the faculty then either the institution I am part of should be a welcoming, flourishing place or I ought to be working to change it. Tenured people owe more to their institutions.

Helen De Cruz

Anon Tenured faculty: I still don't see how the points you raise mean that I would owe more to an institution than teaching well, doing a fair amount of service (including such things as open days, etc), and doing research in line with what the university's expectations are. Universities demanding loyalty from their staff asked, for example that staff would condone such horrible things as a recent university president who thought struggling students should be weeded out (like drowning bunnies), or would be OK that a tenured professor was fired for believing in open theism. These are just two recent cases. It seems clear to me that the professors who were outraged by the official university's line were in the right. I knew people who were deeply angry with the official university's line (for instance in the case of the open theist professor). They tried to change the decision, but it was all to no avail. Donor money or viewpoints of a few influential people. They left the university for other places. In general, I am pessimistic about how much we can change institutions that are corrupt or off-track. It is in those cases far better to leave.

Ed

Do people have ideas/advice for people who are not from US/UK/OZ/Canada, and not trained in those places, who have a good, tenured, position, but are thinking of an international move, which would probably mean going to one of the above listed places?

Anon Tenured Faculty Again

Why would you continue to work at an institution you thought was corrupt? Also as a tenured faculty member, you do not just work for the institution---you are a permanent partner in it. That is what the offer of tenure amounts to. At the point where you accept a tenured post, you are taking on significant responsibilty for the institution you are part of. That was the point I was trying to make in the previous post.

Helen De Cruz

Of course, if one is working for an institution one deems corrupt, one should try to get out. I think our disagreement ultimately boils down to the question of how much a professor job is like any other job, which means, you do the best you can within the constraints of that job - and your employer will, like others, have its good features and its bad, or whether tenure means you have some sort of special investment into the institution. I guess I am more pessimistic about how the dynamics are changing and the power that faculty have within a given institution (compared to, e.g., administrators). Because I believe those dynamics are shifting in a way that is not good for the professors, I think we need to be wary.

Helen De Cruz

Hi Ed: I have a PhD from the Netherlands (Groningen) and worked in Belgium and the Netherlands, and I am now working at a British university. I think it's important to be aware of the specific research culture of a given place (e.g., what the REF is), what funding bodies one can apply to (e.g., ERC, Leverhulme), and build some contacts with the place where you would like to end up in. Maybe it's worth writing a longer blogpost about this?

Ed

Helen: Yes, please. Personally I am most concerned with issues of "culture". Where I am now, things are very informal. Since I mostly teach grad students, I can freely use humor, discuss current events, and so on. Another important issue is that everyone is clear on research being the key metric (though it is not judged simply by counting publications, but rather by trying to judge quality) and students don't feel they can threaten professors with teaching evaluations/complaints. (Not that I have any problems on this front, but it does tell you something about the academic climate). Mostly of all, though, I was thinking about the issue of tenure. Since I have tenure where I am, one wonders how one applies without (at first) people knowing, and how reasonable it is to expect to get a tenured offer.

Regina

Do the job you are passionate about and let loyalty be your slogan.

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