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08/20/2019

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Greg Stoutenburg

I've never been on the hiring side, but my small teaching-focused private college values interdisciplinarity and novelty extremely highly. Aside from hiring, it is the surest way to get funding for a project from an innovation center on campus as well. I'm confident this is not unusual at small private colleges.

Anon prof

Yes, my sense is that developing something like this _as long as it's not at the expense of a focused research project_ is extremely helpful. The one worry would be that of the jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none. But if you can show that your interdisciplinarity enhances your philosophical research, rather than distracting from it, this is a very valuable thing to do. I would talk up that angle in your research statement, i.e., 'I've found that familiarizing myself with current literature in X and Y has considerably enhanced my research. I am more able to give concrete examples and to think through the real-world implications of such-and-such a view" ... this will, of course, be easier to do if you work on political philosophy rather than (e.g.) metaphysics ...

joshmugg

Here is my anecdotal evidence. I got the job I have now (TT at a non-elite SLAC) because of my interdisciplinary work (philosophy, psychology, theology). Actually, the job as Assistant Prof of Philosophy came with being Program Coordinator of the BS in Interdisciplinary Studies.

In hindsight, I probably should have been looking at non-philosophy jobs that were directed at Interdisciplinary Studies, though my impression is that they tend to include a heavy administrative load.

I suspect some philosophers will scoff at your not being a 'pure' philosopher (whatever that means), but others will be happy to see you making connections with other disciplines, and going that way can open doors outside philosophy.

Paul

I agree with the above sentiments. There are an increasing number of interdisciplinary "centers" on major research campuses, and small schools need to justify hiring a philosopher, and if you can teach in other areas or attract more majors through hybrid courses I think in general that is a good thing. And there are an increasing number of journals that are interdisciplinary in mature (Biology and Philosophy and Philosophical Psychology are two examples). And there are also an increasing number of Honors colleges and liberal arts core programs that are looking specifically for cross-pollination. Like Josh, my job is interdisciplinary but in an honors college setting but I am lucky as there is only a small admin component.

I agree with Anon that it is best to still have a strong research agenda with a clear philosophical focus, and be able to explain why your interdisciplinary interests enhance that agenda...

Amanda

At research schools, I think a lot depends on the details. Sometimes it might hurt you, but I think it is just as likely to help you.

It might hurt at the very top Leiter ranked schools in areas like metaphysics and epistemology. These schools have enough status they don't worry as much about impressing administrators, and they also tend to have faculty that live their lives within a very small social circle that has odd norms like thinking interdisciplinary work is not real philosophy. However, if you work in other areas like ethics, philosophy of science, political philosophy - I would be surprised if it hurt you. It is becoming common for ("top") philosophers in those areas to do interdisciplinary work, and I do not think it is looked at negatively.

At, say, a mid-ranked Leiter programs and below, I think having some interdisciplinary cred can often help you. Philosophy departments depend on deans and other admins for money, for help in passing new department legislation, etc. In short, these department very much want admins to like them. Admins are often not philosophers, and they often are impressed by interdisciplinary work. There are also more and more "centers" whose focus is interdisciplinary, and it is usually seen as good if you could work with them. Next, philosophers, even at research schools, often care about having high enrollment numbers. This allows them to do things like meet the min. number per class that is required to get a TA. And research professors love TAs. So it can be a good thing if an interdisciplinary philosopher can help bring undergrads from other majors to philosophy classes. Lastly, since what matters most is research prestige/success, if you have that, in part, via work that is interdisciplinary, what matters far more than the interdisciplinary part is that you have a record of successful/prestigious research.

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