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Jean Paul

I think Sartre might have the best advice here ... you just have to embrace your decision - whichever way it goes. You will have to live with the consequences anyway.

beep boop

My first year on the job market was the year that covid hit and the first thing any professional philosophy blog did was predict how disastrous the job market would be, how it would never recover, and how it was likely the end of professional philosophy as we knew it. Then every year after that, people looked at early job ad numbers and predicted that it would be a year for an unprecedented many TT jobs and even though they were still wrong, there were enough jobs and I got lucky. All these predictions did was fuel my anxiety and dread. They were not helpful and in fact they were outright harmful.

Nobody can predict the future and nobody can make this decision for you. I encourage you to instead think about how you might empower yourself to choose. How does it make YOU feel to be on the job market year after year without the outcome you want? Explore whether it might help take some of the pressure off if you started using temporary academic positions to explore and seriously pursue non-academic jobs. Stop giving so much of your power away to people who are just as fallible and human as you.

Daniel Kaufman

I would get out. Aside from the economy, the university is restructuring in a way that will not be kind to humanities and liberal arts. I doubt my own department will survive long past my recent retirement.

The US is discovering that using the research university as a system of mass education — and that requiring every accountant, hotel manager, and nurse to undergo a 4 year BA/BS — is unsustainable. The resulting correction will be brutal to the humanities and liberal arts.

I would not recommend *anyone* going into this profession right now.


I'm a TT professor who will in all certainty be tenured in a few months. My university is relatively financially stable, but I'm nonetheless going to be leaving the profession within the next two years. Why?

1. Pay is not keeping up with inflation.
2. I cannot justify working for an institution whose sole goal seems to be to get people to part with their money, at almost any cost and with only the most indirect concern for quality of education or moral purpose.
3. My students are getting worse and more apathetic. There are of course gems among them, at all levels, but more and more seem to have no idea why they're there and it affects my daily work.

Not sure how much this generalizes, but I would suspect my situation is true of a fair number of non-elite places, especially private, and that things are trending this way. I think you should get out unless either you don't care about 1-3 or think you have a good chances of landing at a places where 1-3 are not a problem.

TT Faculty

It is difficult to anticipate with confidence what the results of the enrollment cliff will be for any particular institution. It is close to impossible to anticipate with confidence whether there will be a recession in the next six, twelve, or eighteen months, and what effect this will have on hiring at any particular institution.

However, it does seem likely that the enrollment cliff will result in an overall reduction in tenure-track philosophy professors in the United States. Thus, there will probably be fewer openings for tenure-track philosophy jobs in the United States in five or ten years then there are now.

Now, the OP was asking if they should gut it out for another one or two years on the market. Ultimately, I do not think the enrollment cliff or potential recession should factor into their decision-making with respect to that particular decision. First, the enrollment cliff is probably not going to reduce philosophy hiring in the US over the next year or two to a noticeable degree (though I might be wrong). Second, as I noted, nobody knows if a recession is coming in that time frame. Now, I should also note, that I see no reason to think that the tenure-track philosophy job market in the US will *improve* in those two years. Philosophy enrollments, while spared some of the worst drops had by History and English, are not really rebounding to a large degree. So, if that's a determining factor, I would say: get out while the getting's good. Everyone I know who has gone the alt-ac route has been happy with their decision, and most tenure-track jobs in philosophy are not all they've cracked up to be. For example, I now make $57k/year after my second raise--a salary that makes a comfortable middle class life (house, kids, savings) very difficult.

Tenured SLAC

As several comments have already mentioned, pay is not keeping pace with inflation, and one must take seriously the fact that making Associate may not mean making more than 70K in many institutions.

I teach at a SLAC in the northeast and we are actively planning for the enrollment cliff. Because we are projecting a significantly lower enrollment, we are not replacing retiring faculty. Though there may be new TT lines in very high-demand or "growth" areas, the likelihood of dissolving humanities departments into Divisions is becoming more likely. So this means that though one may be hired to teach in a college that offers a philosophy major or minor, one may be doing that with only one or two colleagues, which also means a significant service burden. I still don't regret my decision, but if I could do it again, I may. The anxiety of the Covid years plus this new anxiety about our future as an institution is a lot.

Daniel A Kaufman

What Tenured SLAC describes is exactly what is happening to us. Two whole colleges -- Arts and Letters and Humanities and Public Affairs -- are being merged together, with all the cuts, consolidations, and savings such mergers are intended to bring.

This is not being done to the Business School. Or to the Nursing Program. Or to Natural and Applied Sciences.

What Disillusioned is describing is also happening at my Uni. Student interest, quality, and emotional soundness has plummeted and the institution is oriented entirely towards career preparation.
More and more white-collar job preparation in the US is going to be effected in two-year and community colleges, with expensive 4-year research Unis -- which will be smaller in both size and number -- reserved for things that require/deserve that sort of institutional infrastructure and expense.

Which places will be offering philosophy and other such things -- and how much of it/them -- will be determined by how much of such things people think are necessary for most ordinary working people. And it will be orders of magnitude less than what we in the profession would like to think are necessary. How many schools in Missouri -- where I live -- need to offer a philosophy major? The answer is going to be "very few."

I'm not even sure that answer is incorrect, but regardless, it is and will continue to be the answer.

CC Faculty

I'm not so sure about the whole recession thing. But the enrollment cliff has to be taken very seriously. Perhaps the worst threat here, which I've seen no one mention, is that you get laid off after landing a permanent job or the institution simply closes its doors. More than a few SLACs with non-competitive admissions simply aren't going to survive the enrollment cliff. Most public schools will survive (no legislator is going to let a college in his hometown die if he can help it), but there are going to be cutbacks. Two of the schools I interviewed at when I was on the market have already had layoffs that affect philosophy that I know about. One other school I interviewed at is currently threatening to shutter the philosophy major, which may well lead to layoffs. My own institution had layoffs in other departments a few years back, though philosophy is by all accounts safe. I know of at least two SLACs in my own state that I'd bet won't survive the next ten years, and there are probably more I don't know about.

Reasonable Heart Following

This all assumes explicit reasoning is what matters. Maybe so. But one might also follow one’s heart?

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