Monday, August 10, 2009

Burning questions

Lately, I've been derelict in my duties as middle man of getting questions from the readers out to more readers. Oops. So, what better time than following a complaint about the lack of posting/commenting, to pose two separate questions to you. I can't answer them myself and am in no mood to speculate wildly, so answer both and you'll win a prize. The last clause of the previous statement is false.

The first question is about international jobs. Fellow Smoker JM asks the following:
[I]s [there] an international equivalent to I see ads for very competitive positions in the UK, Ireland, Australia and just a few on the Continent. And that same job in Ankara every year.

I would like someplace to go and hear about jobs in Polytechnics, Volkshochshule, and other spots abroad. I want this simply because that would improve chances of being hired at all.

Also, is there anywhere I can read up on the British system so that I don't accidentally sound like a dolt?
The second question, from Difficile, hopes for an increase in adjunct positions since there sure as shit won't be any tenure-track jobs out there. But, in their own words:
I have a question that burns more and more each day. With the elimination of so many tenure-track jobs we've seen lately, will there be a concordant increase in adjunct positions? My question put another way, I know I should be very worried about getting a tenure-track job offer, even though I'm coming from the low end of the top twenty (according to Leiter), but should I also be worried about not even getting some kind of adjunct work? Will I really have to pump gas as my parents warned me eight years ago when I told them I wanted a PhD in philosophy?
First thought, consult a doctor to make sure that burning question isn't something more serious. Second thought, you might be too qualified to pump gas, but don't despair. There are plenty more jobs we can do that would be more rewarding if the TT or adjunct thing doesn't work out. Second Ph.D anyone?

-- Jaded Dissertator


Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

Re: the adjunct question -- I suspect that the answer depends a lot on where you are, but I suspect there will be more adjunct jobs overall.

The thing is, an adjunct slot is generally VERY profitable -- I did the math about 9 years ago and realized that, since the department chair forced two overloads on me, those overload students paid my salary. This was at a SLAC --

I do think the slots will come up at the very last minute, so have your CV in the hands of department chairs/deans (assistants) now -- so when they need to put in another section you'll be on their list.

philo said...

The Chronicle of Higher Ed includes jobs from outside the US (but good luck finding them since their website redesign!). H-Net also lists jobs outside the US. You might increase your chances if you are willing to consider humanities-type positions (Core and writing programs, for example).

I don't know how frequently it is updated, but I seem to recall having some resources on jobs...Don't hold me to that...

In any case, I am wondering these days if Asia might be the place to look for philosophy jobs abroad. As an entry-level outsider, I don't have a lot of hope of breaking into the local systems in Europe, but I hear that like Chinese universities are expanding.

krh said...

You can check, I would recommend signing up for emails; humanities jobs. Jobs are posted from around the world, not just the UK.

Also consider Philos-L, there may be some overlap job wise, but postdocs and cfps are also posted:

Anonymous said... lists most new philosophy jobs in the uk.

Anonymous said...

Question 1: for academic jobs in the UK check As for not sounding like a dolt, I've been living here 2 years and haven't managed it yet.

Filosofer said...

In my experience, getting adjunct work is insanely easy--at least for those of us who live within driving distance of multiple universities. But it's a sucky, sucky, sucky way to make a living. You have to bear in mind that an adjunct gig is probably going to pay $1500-$2500 per course, and it's not going to come with any benefits. Where I live (I'm not sure if this is a state law or a federal one), universities must offer benefits to anyone who teaches three or more courses at a time, so none of the schools here will let an adjunct teach more than two classes per term. So, if you want to make $30K/year (remember, that's without benefits), you need to get on board at four different universities and prepare for a 7/8 courseload. It's also worth noting that adjuncts will be hired to teach whatever the "real" faculty least want to teach, and you won't actually be guaranteed anything beyond the present semester.

Personally, I think a far saner course would be to find a 20 hours/week job that offers health insurance (e.g. Starbucks), and then teach four adjunct classes on top of that. Still pretty crappy, but not impossible for a year or two. After THAT, my friends, if you're still not a tenure-track professor, let me encourage you to get a real job somewhere and teach as an adjunct in the evenings. It's not a bad hobby.

Ree said...

About adjuncts, at my institution there will be far fewer positions this year than last. The school needs to cut costs. Most costs go to TT salary, and so are untouchable. Adjunct salary is easy to cut. In my case, this means fewer courses offered, those courses are larger, and regular faculty are teaching more service courses than usual. So instead of a TT line being divided among a few adjuncts, there's just no line.

Anonymous said...

Some jobs in Canada:

Anonymous said...

Adjunct: Yes, we will hire two for $3500 a class, 2 classes each at the cost of one of my best friends TT position being eliminated. Remember to be sensitive to the department's possible loss at the cost of hiring you.

James said...

On the adjunct question, my guess is that there will be economic pressures in both directions.

There will be full time positions that will be changed to part time.

Yet, many schools are under pressure not to spend less, but to not spend at all and to actually make cuts. In those cases, existing faculty will get extra classes, larger classes, etc., and the admins will do everything they can to not allow part-time positions to open.

The question is which pressure is greater. My guess is that it is the latter, for at least one more year.

Anonymous said...

One comment in response to Filosofer, who says that "adjuncts will be hired to teach whatever the 'real' faculty least want to teach, and you won't actually be guaranteed anything beyond the present semester."

You'd need a 'most' in there to make this true, and so it is worth noting what the exceptions are, and why there are exceptions, if you want to find a good adjunct gig.

In my department, we're all pretty deferential to our adjuncts. They get awful pay and no benefits (something we can't do a lot about), but we take their teaching preferences very seriously, give them opportunities to teach upper-level courses, invite them to all faculty meetings, and we sometimes even sacrifice a TT faculty member's course so as not to leave an adjunct stuck with fewer courses than he or she was hoping to have.

We plan courses for them way, way, way in advance, and we talk to them about the "rotations" of courses they'd like to offer, etc.

I suspect we're not typical in these respects (maybe I'm wrong about that). One reason we are this way is that we're such a small department, and so we depend on our adjuncts to offer a reasonable range of courses not limited to our AOS/AOCs. Also, there are other departments in the area our adjuncts could choose to work in instead. (Some of our adjuncts do work in more than one department, but most of our adjuncts only teach for us.) There isn't a big population of underemployed philosophers here, so the departments here have to compete for the best adjuncts.

Anonymous said...

I have no idea what is the norm, the sample of evidence from which I have to draw is limited. That said, what Anon 5:47 writes does not accord with what I have been seeing at my home institution and hearing from friends. My own experience is more similar to Ree's.

As the economy has dipped, adjunct positions have been the first to go. In my own department, we dropped half of our adjuncts while adding a tenure-track position. Adjuncts teach the low-level courses that permanent faculty prefer not to teach. I think Filosopher is exactly right in claiming that it is a sucky way to make a living. I'd add that it is also a sucky way of improving the quality of academic institutions; not because those adjuncting are professionally sub-par, but because the circumstances of such positions seriously compromise the quality of their teaching and research. It is a lousy practice all the way around.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:58 is quite right that what I (Anonymous 5:47 above) am describing isn't the norm. But for those who want an adjunct gig in spite of the awful pay and no benefits, then it's worth hunting for the gigs in the better range in terms of teaching assignments, voice in the dept., and prospects for rehire, rather than assuming all such gigs are equally bad. So I suggest:

(1) Avoid departments with large faculties. Probably, departments with large faculties don't need adjuncts to expand the range of courses they can offer, and so they probably use adjuncts for teaching assignments the regulars don't want.

(2) Avoid departments in cities that can boast a large pool of underemployed philosophers. You might find it fairly easy to find work in such places, but the departments don't have to compete for your attention as much, because if they lose you there's always someone else they can hire.

(3) Avoid departments in Universities with big endowments. They can actually consider whether to hire a TT person vs. adjuncts, whereas state Us with an uncertain future and an endowment the chancellor can fit in her purse are places where winning approval for a TT hire feels like winning the lottery, but adjunct budgets are staying the same or only shrinking a little.

Not everyone will be in a position to follow this advice, and not all will want to. (Some might think it's better to have a bad assignment with no prospects for rehire in a major research University dept. in which you might be ignored by the regulars--that might look better on your CV, after all, and you might have some really good students.) But that's a different matter.

Anonymous said...

"Remember to be sensitive to the department's possible loss at the cost of hiring you."

Anon 7am: If your friend who lost his job couldn't find anything better, I'm sure you'd hire him rather than Adjunct to teach two of those classes. The fact that you're out hiring means he did find something better. So don't shit on Adjunct for being so incredibly abject. And don't expect sympathy for him. You've got a job that's better than the shit wages you'll pay him, as does your friend.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, its annoying when the TT are so self-righteous about their own employment versus adjuncts.

One snide comment from our placement director portrayed adjuncts as the scum of the earth. When asked why adjuncting was such a bad gig he replied, "Well, you CAN work at Walmart to supplement your income while adjuncting in North Dakota somewhere." Please.

Adjuncting is not as bad as most here are making it appear to be. In fact, 299 out of the 300 job applicants will probably be doing it. So for as much of the whining about adjuncting that goes on (especially at the Chronicle) there are many, many people who just suck it up and do it.

I've been adjuncting for two good universities for the past year and have been making a decent living; and am getting benefits (this is a rarity, I know.) The living isn't great, but for me it doesn't need to be. I am very happy doing what I do, don't feel abused at all, and take offense to idiots who equal all adjunct jobs to supplement gigs at Walmart. That is ridiculous.

In any case, adjuncting isn't the end of the world. Someone posted above, it can be a great hobby while you work a real job elsewhere (not Walmart) or you can still produce, write, etc etc and adjunct if your willing to find benefits some other way (perhaps your married, or can purchase insurance) and if your willing to maintain that making 30k and above isn't everything. Remember, some of the TT make 90k and above (our placement direct, for example) and look how productive HE is. Not very.