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slac chair

I am chair of a philosophy department at a good-not-great liberal arts school with a fairly large student population. FWIW, for us, having lots of prestigious publications does not hurt you in any way. We have interviewed folks from Leiter top-3 departments, and we have interviewed folks from top Leiter programs with an overflowing CV. What makes all the difference in the world is (again, for us) is 1-3 on Marcus' list. 4 might be important too, but since we have a large-ish department, it isn't so important. I would make one caveat w/r/t 2. We don't care so much about teachers on the bleeding edge of pedagogical innovation (though we want folks who will engage students in active learning in a wide sense), we care about teachers who are committed and reflective. Committed and reflective instructors keep honing their skills, and trying to figure out what works and what doesn't.

Also, if you don't have one, get a teaching letter. Have someone (perhaps the Teaching Center) at your university observe your teaching, multiple times if possible, look over your syllabi, and write you a letter of recommendation. This is really important!

slac chair

Sorry for the typos. No coffee yet...

Post Doc

I’m skeptical of the “don’t publish too much or in prestigious places” advice- seems like opinions on that differ too wildly to bet your life on it. Maybe scroll through Phil Appointments and see who got jobs you might want. I also think you should apply to R1s as well- it might make life more difficult in the happy chance you have an offer from both, but if you only have one offer you might be happier to have it.


Exactly. Look through phil jobs and see how many people at teaching schools have top publications and are from a top department. (if you are aiming fancy, then you can go ahead and publish. But that limits the number of teaching schools you have available.) I would apply to research jobs if you think you will be at least reasonably happy there. From what the poster wrote it seems he/she wouldn't, but maybe I read that wrong. If you tried several years at getting a teaching job and you don't have success, then you might have reevaluate your approach. Perhaps you will need to think about whether you would be happier at research school or leaving and doing anon-academic job.

SLAC Associate

Most teaching-oriented schools need faculty that can wear a lot of different hats, so to speak, as such departments are typically small in number but still want to offer a meaningful variety of courses to their majors and their broader student bodies.

One strategy to be successful in applications to such places is to demonstrate the ability to teach several different kinds of courses and in ways that can draw in many different kinds of students. Few teaching schools are going to want to or even be able to offer four upper-level seminars in analytic metaphysics a year, say; showing facility with service courses and/or popular courses such as applied ethics, philosophy of religion, philosophy of race & gender, philosophy of computing, philosophy of mind, Asian philosophy, etc. can go a long way.

Alternatively, another way to get the needed breadth without going the applied ethics or interdisciplinary routes is to make one's portfolio indicate an AOS in two areas that are not typically linked, so that, for instance, one can be the department's expert in both Ancient Philosophy and Aesthetics, or in Modern Philosophy and Ethics, or Metaphysics and Social/Political Philosophy, etc.


n = 1, but my own experience also makes me skeptical of the advice to not publish too much or in too prestigious places. When I went on the market (last year), I had 6 publications, 5 of them in top-10 journals. My Ph.D. is from a top-20 Leiter-ranked school. I had 5 first-round interviews with teaching schools of varying kinds (large state schools, religious schools, and SLACs, of varying level of prestige and teaching-heaviness), 3 fly-outs, and 1 offer. I never hid my research accomplishments: my publications are on the first page of my CV, and I mention them on the first page of my cover letter. Of course, I also emphasized teaching: I had a strong teaching portfolio and tailored my cover letters to talk about what I could teach in a way that I thought would be attractive to particular schools. So it is certainly right that emphasizing teaching helps you at teaching schools. But while I guess I don't know what my experience would have been had I not had so many top publications, I really don't think it hurt me much.

Why is this? One reason is that some teaching schools do care a lot about research. Another reason is that even if most people at a school don't care about research, one person on the committee might, and an eye-catching research profile might get your foot in the door at that school. A third reason is that at some smaller teaching schools that are not well-connected to the discipline, the faculty really have no idea what the top journals are. They will not know the difference between a CV with publications in Mind, Nous, and J Phil and a CV with publications in Synthese, Philosophia, and Metaphilosophy.


I think Joel is right, except for the last point about people not knowing the differences in journal ranks. The searches I have been involved in at a teaching centered school always gave serious consideration to people who had published and in good places. What I frowned on was people listing under "publications" papers that were under review. I thought the last thing I need is another deceptive colleague.

SLAC tenured professor & chair

I work at a SLAC that isn't especially impressive. That said, my colleagues are incredible and all come from prestigious institutions with publications in some of the best journals in their sub-fields and the field more generally.

In short, you would not be at a disadvantage at my institution, and in fact, because we routinely get 200+ applications for a tenure-track position, many people with impressive degrees and publications don't even land a skype interview.

With the job market being what it is, one needs the most prestigious degree they can get, and a whack of publications. I would simply stress how much you love teaching and how you see yourself fitting in the position and at least at my institution, you'd be fine.


I am fascinated by all the people saying that prestige in PhD institution and publications doesn't hurt but helps with teaching schools. From looking at Phil Jobs the past two years, and knowing people at teaching schools, this has not been true at all from what I have seen. I guess if someone really wants to solve the mystery they can spend a few days looking at the CVs of assistant professors at non-fancy teaching schools.

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