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I imagine that most of the questions posted here will be from job applicants, but this is a question for search-committee members *from a search committee member*.

Let's say that you were a TT junior faculty member of a department without a graduate program. And let's say that you cared about teaching and you were just certain that if only your department would hire some rock star teachers and assign them to intro-level courses, then the number of majors would skyrocket and those additional students would benefit from increased exposure to philosophy. But let's say, also, that several senior members of your department weren't so concerned about exposing more students to philosophy, or diversifying the field, or increasing the number of majors, or teaching fantastic courses. Those members of the department are impressive scholars, especially for members of a department without any graduate students, but they are basically of the attitude that adequate teaching is all one needs. Or perhaps, deep down, they are skeptical that there even is such a thing as great teaching that can break through to students who otherwise would not major in philosophy. Here is the question: how would you approach your role on a search committee so as to maximize the chances that your department hired a truly fantastic teacher who would just rake in the majors?

I will admit that I already have an answer in mind: decide on your own who the best teachers in the applicant pool are and then try to convince your colleagues to hire one or two of these people entirely on scholarly grounds, ignoring teaching altogether because you know that they won't be swayed by teaching-related considerations but that they might be swayed by scholarly ones. I have that answer in mind, but I have very little experience in this arena, so I imagine that others will have more insight than I do.


I'd be curious by what others say. Because as G said, the obvious answer is to find someone who is excellent at both research and teaching. With this market, that should certainly be possible. I also am surprised there is an undergrad only teaching school that has many department members who don't care about teaching!

Also, unless this school is hiring several people, I find it doubtful that one excellent teacher could really change the outlook of the program that much.

Marcus Arvan

G: great question - and Amanda and others, let's wait until I dedicate a post to the topic so we can have a good open discussion in one place!


I'm a graduate student entering the job market for the first time, and I'm finding it a little bit baffling to develop a cover letter. The advice on Philosopher's Cocoon and a few other online sources is all pretty consistent: you have an introductory paragraph, a current research paragraph, a publication/presentation/future research paragraph, and a fit paragraph. But a lot of jobs specifically ask that you highlight particular things in your cover letter. Often this overlaps with things that you're already putting in a cover letter, or it can be added in the fit paragraph, but it's hard for me to believe that if a search committee specifically asked for you to speak to your experiences advocating for diversity and inclusion, for instance, that they want to read through a whole bunch of stuff about your research before you get there. In those cases, should I rearrange my cover letter to highlight that stuff sooner? Or should I *only* be addressing the requested topics in my cover letter in those cases?

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