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The best advice I got along these lines, from my mentor James Freeman at Hunter College, was to get to know how to teach all of Intro to Ethics, Intro to Philosophy, and Intro to Logic. There's typically a need for one or more of these.


I am inclined to think it is quite unpredictable which AOCs are worth developing. So, concentrate on your interests. I see my advice as falling in line with Marcus'. Where I once worked, a permanent colleague got sick of teaching the various required courses he was routinely scheduled for. He had too many, and he stopped enjoying the rotation through them. So when a position came up, I suggested that we add one of his subjects as an AOC, so that we could relieve him. And, an AOC like Ancient, with expressed interest in Ancient science, would look great to a 4 year college thinking of starting an interdisciplinary HPS program with the history department. You cannot know where and when these things happen. But if you cultivate your interests, it won't be painful. The down side of Ancient is that any serious scholar in ancient has the languages. And that is a major investment.


I think you and the first commenter are basically right, that the AOCs that are the best bets are the ones that are related to courses that are really frequently taught / required for a program.

There are also some job ads that ask for, roughly speaking, something non-canonical. The way this is phrased depends on the school. I don't know how many of these jobs there actually are, but I'd guess it's far fewer than the applied ethics AOC jobs. But I thought I'd mention it since it seems to me like a fair portion of my interviews over the years can be traced to my experience with non-canonical philosophy.

Some of the data ethics jobs also ask for just an AOC in that area, rather than an AOS, and this seems to be a growing portion of the job market.

New TT

I want to second the applied ethics suggestion. I was hired at my institution to teach healthcare ethics AND ancient/medieval philosophy.

Applied ethics courses (e.g., healthcare ethics, business ethics) are often required for other majors.

Sam Duncan

I found that being able to claim an AOC in 19th and 20th century continental philosophy landed me a few interviews that I don't think I'd have gotten otherwise. I second the thought that in general applied and history are the most likely to be useful. I do wonder how much of the relevant languages you need to claim an AOC in historical areas though though. Can you claim one in Ancient without Attic Greek? Personally, I wouldn't claim an AOC in continental if I couldn't at least read German or French. Then again I know more than a few people who not only claim Kant as an AOC without being able to actually read German but have even managed to publish on Kant. I'd be really interested to see people's thoughts on whether one needs to learn the relevant languages and if so to what degree to claim AOC's in historical eras or figures.


There's been an increasing effort in recent years to diversify teaching curricula. Given this, it seems that it couldn't hurt to develop an AOC in areas that would serve this overarching goal--especially if one had an independent interest in these areas, and they were potentially useful for one's primary research.


I agree that the best AOCs, strategically, are those in which most departments offer several undergrad courses (especially if there's a tendency to offer several lower-level courses!). To my mind, that means ethics is probably the most useful of them all, but it seems to me that a historical AOC is probably pretty good too, especially ancient or early modern. Beyond that, I'd say that logic could be good if you're comfortable doing a little more than just basic FOL, since most departments seem to offer one or two logic sequences (or a 'critical thinking' sequence) and the pool of faculty members interested or confident in teaching the logic classes is probably usually lower than it is for other classes. Philosophy of science strikes me as a decent possibility, too, although a little narrower than the others in terms of departmental coverage.

I don't think you need to max out on all the most strategically viable AOCs, though. I think it's worthwhile having one that's in high demand, maybe two, but beyond that I think it's good to backfill with somewhat more niche areas that usually get one UG course a year at most departments.

Anon hopefully hiring

Non-western. At least in my own case my department might be granted a new hiring line because students have expressed an interest for a few years now in more non western offerings. Faculty would be happy to see this offered and there is only so much we each want to do by way of changing our own research plans.


I'd encourage people who are interested in developing an AOC in less commonly taught philosophies around the world, like Chinese, Indian, African/African diaspora, to do so. I think there are pragmatic reasons for it both in terms of hiring and in terms of getting a different perspective on philosophy, through looking at different traditions.

There are increasingly more resources for learning how to teach in these areas without having relevant language skills, and being able to teach a course, or even just a unit, on, say Buddhist philosophy of mind, could be very valuable.

One thing I'd caution people against is claiming an AOC in "Non-Western philosophy" as if one can be an expert in that large an area, or as if it is a cohesive category. Personally, I am suspicious of people who claim to have expertise in e.g."Daoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism"--this strikes me akin to claiming expertise in "continental philosophy, analytic philosophy, ancient Greek philosophy, and Arabic philosophy." Possible, maybe, but unlikely!

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