Choosing and developing AOCs?




In our newest “how can we help you?” thread, a reader asks:

I have a question about developing AOCs. Specifically, I am curious how people go about deciding what AOCs to develop, what the best practices there might be. Obviously it would be nice to have competence in areas of interest to me personally, but also, I want to think strategically in terms of the job market.

One piece of advice was that the AOS and AOC should paint a coherent picture — so my AOS and my AOC(s) are clearly related in content. E.g., specializing in ancient, project is on an ancient figure’s view of mind, AOC in contemporary mind. Something like that. But if this is good advice, I’m wondering if one risks seeming overly specialized.

Another piece of advice was to think about what areas hiring committees might like to offer undergrad courses in. I’m less clear how this one works (maybe choosing an often underrepresented area like race/gender, nonwestern areas, etc.? or a ‘core’ subfield, or a history one, assuming these are needs every department might have?). But if this is good advice, I’m wondering how to actually figure out what areas those might be.

Finally, I was curious whether AOC-related advice differs in terms of research-focused and teaching-focused job searches. (For what it’s worth, I personally will be focusing my job search at SLACs, but I’m curious about advice more generally.)

These are great questions. I do suspect that things may be different here for research-focused versus teaching-focused institutions. My sense is that at SLACs, at least, there are often particular undergrad courses that the department either needs or wants to offer. Given that these courses may differ substantially across universities (as a result of different major or gen-ed requirements, etc.), it can I think be hard to predict. But I would offer two rules of thumb: (1) more diversity in terms of being able to teach standard philosophy undergrad courses is better than less (e.g. being able to teach some history of philosophy courses may indeed be helpful, particularly for getting a job in smaller departments without specialists in history of philosophy), and (2) many departments at SLACs are concerned with attracting students to the major, so being able to teach ‘popular’ types of courses (e.g. courses in ethics, justice, etc.) may be advantageous.

But these are just some off-the-cuff thoughts, and I’d love to hear what search committee members or department members in different kinds of institutions think. What approach to choosing or developing AOCs do you think would best serve job candidates for getting a job in your department?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More



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