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09/14/2022

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Michel

Your AOCs will probably change over time, depending on what you're actually assigned to teach, so it's not like you're locked in to whatever you choose to start to cultivate. The trick is to convince someone to hire you in the first place!

I think that the best bet is to cultivate a combination of AOCs, some of which naturally and obviously complement the AOS, and some of which are more broadly targeted to place you as someone who can satisfy several of a department's needs.

So, by all means, pursue a closely-allied AOC; but be careful not to only cultivate narrow AOCs with low demand! I think you'd be well advised to make sure you have one or more AOCs in subjects which are in high demand, or which are regularly offered at most universities.

So, for example, the combination of medieval, aesthetics, and 19th-century German Idealism, while fairly diverse, doesn't exactly speak to topics that are in high demand across philosophy. Just look at how few jobs advertise for any of those AOSes! Having one of those can help you fill a niche (aesthetics and 19th c., in particular, tend to have at least one course in most departments), but the other two don't add much extra value. In a relatively small department, a measure of redundancy of coverage is very useful, both in case someone takes a semester or more off, and when the department offers multiple sections of a particular course (these are likely to be lower-level introductions to ethics/applied ethics of some stripe and logic or critical thinking). If a department offers two sections of business ethics a semester, they can't all fall on the shoulders of just one faculty member!

Trevor Hedberg

While it's probably not possible for everyone to cultivate an AOC in the area, I'd make getting an AOC in medical ethics a priority for most graduate students. Medical ethics is one of the most in-demand courses at almost any university. That's been the case since I began graduate school, and I suspect it will continue to be the case for a while.

non-tt faculty

Based on job ads, I think anyone in ethics or political philosophy should think about business ethics, AI, PPE, political economy, bioethics, race, gender, and technology.

Another grad student

I'm developing AOCs based on (a) my own interests, (b) based on my predictions of what I think will be in demand in years down the road, and (c) based on my predictions of supply.

I wouldn't just look at current demand for a few reasons.
1. "Supply and demand". If there is high demand but high supply, then it will be super competitive and hard. You might as well go for something with normal demand and a normal supply. (Avoid low demand AOCs because the hiring process will be a function of both your AOS and AOC).
2. Current demand means alot of grad students & post-docs will also try to strengthen their AOCs (e.g. Taking a graduate certificate in bioethics). If you declare the same AOCs and you don't have anything substantial in comparison, you'll lose out.
3. Current demand will be filled up by people currently on the job market. So, the demand might drop in the future. This of course depends on how many years away you are from going to the job market.
4. You will be hired to teach your AOCs, and will do so in those areas (at least for the first few years) while you are still working towards tenture. It'll be easier to teach something you enjoy and may relate to your research.

Bill Vanderburgh

I agree with the advice already posted. A diversity of areas is better, especially at teaching institutions. I'd add, this will help you on the adjunct market, too, while you are trying to get a full time position.

I'd say that having a common, mainstream AOC is often less valuable. I mean something like, having an AOS in Chinese with an AOC in Ethics. There are so many people who do ethics, that is less likely to be a differentiator. However, I'd also say that you will negatively surprise people if you have an AOS in ancient phil mind but cannot teach contemporary phil mind to first years. So perhaps the natural AOCs are freebees and then you need some that are less common. Speaking of that, less-commonly-taught philosophies (Chinese, Indian, African, and many others that are not typically taught in the US) are good options. Those also tend to be areas that are popular with students. Something in applied philosophy (business ethics, computer ethics, engineering ethics, bioethics, etc.) is also useful since departments often have gen ed teaching needs in those or related areas.

All this said, a very common sin on CVs is listing too many AOCs. More than three seems like too many to me--it seems implausible in someone fresh out of a grad program.

Assistant Professor

To put it more simply: have 2-3 AOCs (not more) and make sure 1 of them is in an area corresponding to common service courses in philosophy departments (especially if your AOS is more niche).

As others have said, this might be an area of applied ethics, but it could also be in logic, ancient (or other major historical period), or in areas that departments need coverage and may not currently have it (as Bill said above, non-Western phil is a solid option - but also in feminism, disability, race, areas that especially smaller departments need to build out even if they can't hire a dedicated line to these topics).

The other question is how to demonstrate that you have the AOCs you claim to: getting some actual teaching experience in these areas is a really good way to show a hiring committee you are prepared to teach in them!

Trevor Hedberg

I want to make a note on this comment above:

"Current demand will be filled up by people currently on the job market. So, the demand might drop in the future. This of course depends on how many years away you are from going to the job market."

Current demand might be filled by people currently on the market for a while, but a lot of jobs with high teaching loads are not permanent positions. Those jobs are filled for 1-3 years and then come open again.

Hearkening back to my specific medical ethics recommendation, enrollment in STEM fields has been steadily increasing for a long time. Medical programs almost always require medical ethics or an equivalent course, so demand for those courses has been rising for a while now. The same is true for courses like engineering ethics. At any university with a small faculty, the ability to teach these kinds of courses would be a notable asset in a job search even if the focus of the search was in an AOS other than ethics.

FC

On choosing AOCs...

When I first went on the market, my mentor reviewed my cv and said, "that's an AOC of yours?"

I indicated that it was, that I'd developed a good background for it through coursework.

His response was, "But do you *want* to teach it?"

I got a full-time job and did end up teaching it -- a lot.

Just something to keep in mind. If you're not sure you want to teach something, and to maybe teach it a lot, give a second thought to listing it as an AOC.

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