Working in Small Philosophy Departments

Andrew Mills blogs at Small Philosophy Departments and discusses issues related to teaching in that environment.

This blog is dedicated to issues arising for those faculty who teach in small philosophy departments. The first set of posts to the blog are the results of a survey conducted in 2008 which asked faculty working in small philosophy departments (defined as departments with three or fewer full-time philosophy faculty) to comment on the challenges and advantages of such a work environment.

He makes these interesting observations on the kind of instructor who tends to thrive in a small department.

If you want to succeed in a small department, you should be the kind of person who…

…is happy putting teaching ahead of scholarship on your priority list

…can handle a heavy teaching load

…is content to be in a department that may not enjoy prestige on campus

…is content to be a member of a “service” department–i.e., a dept. that serves other majors.

…enjoys forming close mentoring relationships with undergraduates

…can teach a wide variety of courses

…is content to be the only person on your campus who works in your field

…can be happy without much, if any, intellectual engagement with campus colleagues

…can find intellectual stimulation interacting with people from different disciplines

…is able to recruit majors, primarily through teaching engaging and interesting courses

…is willing to advise a philosophy club or honorary society

…is willing and able to serve on college committees and in other service capacities

…derives satisfaction from seeing students learn

…doesn’t require professional accolades or prominence in the discipline

…enjoys learning about areas of philosophy you’ve never studied before

…enjoys the freedom to create new courses

…enjoys seeing the same students in multiple courses

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