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A helpful way to understand courtesy/affiliate appointments is to contrast them with joint/secondary appointments. With joint/secondary appointments, you are a full member of two departments. So you owe teaching to two departments, you have voting rights in two departments, your salary, in a sense, comes from both departments, and you might even have different tenure expectations from each. With courtesy/affiliate positions, you are housed just in philosophy. So you aren't expected to regularly teach in the second department if at all, you don't have voting rights in the second one, and issues related to salary and promotion are handled by the philosophy department.

What's involved, then? Well, in some cases, nothing. Many such appointments are in name only. In other cases, what remains is non-teaching work like being on committees for graduate theses and dissertations. Note that such work is almost always unpaid. Since salary is handled by the philosophy department, the other department won't have money to give you for non-teaching work and you won't get compensated by the philosophy department for work done for other departments.

I have a courtesy/affiliate appointment in linguistics. I asked for it by emailing the chair of their department, and it was later voted on at one of their faculty meetings. I asked because I regularly sit on theses and dissertation committees for them, attend their colloquia, and participate in their reading groups. So the courtesy/affiliate appointment was a way of formally acknowledging my involvement. Since someone might find themselves similarly involved with other departments without the courtesy/affiliate appointment, I think the only advantage to it is being able to formally mark your interdisciplinary involvement with a line on the CV.

Tim O'Keefe

In our department, our affiliate faculty members also can automatically have their courses cross-listed with philosophy if they request it. Also, they're allowed to chair MA theses if they wish to, and they're treated as members of the department for the sake of constituting MA thesis committees.

East Coaster

Does anyone have experience with these sorts of gigs when they are not at the same institution? Every once in a while, I see a case where a philosopher at X university is affiliated somehow with a philosophy department at Y.


I don't know if my experience is typical, but I have an affiliate appointment with a university where I did a post-doc because I continue to do research with some of their faculty.

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