A student who will be starting a PhD program in philosophy writes:
Being a fan of your blog and an incoming PhD student in philosophy, I was wondering if you'd think it'd be useful to open your blog up to commenters about things philosophy PhDs wish they had known about graduate school in philosophy before they began studying that would've made life and studying easier?
Some of the best advice about surviving graduate school I've gotten have been anecdotal and I thought perhaps students would benefit seeing some crowd-sourced advice on the blog, popular as it is.
Students may post anonymously (choose some stable pseudonym so we don't have a thread full of 25 "anon student" posters). Please include a valid e-mail address, which will not be published.
They are J.C. Beall (Connecticut), Oystein Linnebo (Oslo), and Greg Restall (Melbourne), effective September 1 of this year. All three work in and around logic and philosophy of mathematics, and will contribute, among other things, to the AHRC project on "The Metaphysical Basis of Logic" led by Franz Berto (Aberdeen). Professorial Fellows are in residence for 6-7 weeks each year.
MOVING TO FRONT ONE MORE TIME, SINCE THERE WERE SOME LATE HIRES REPORTED SINCE MID-APRIL--ORIGINALLY POSTED FEBRUARY 15, 2013 (Please note the spam filter mysteriously ate several postings, which I've now restored. Because I am on the road, please wait at least 72 hours after posting before contacting me about missing information. I will continue to check the spam filter regularly.)
It's that time of year again...I am opening comments on this thread for people to post news about junior, tenure-track hires in philosophy departments or of philosophy PhDs, i.e., hires made during this year of new assistant professors who will be starting in summer or fall 2013 (or thereafter). (For schools outside the US, please list new Lecturers who are on presumptively permanent appointments--not temporary lecturers.) As in prior years, you may also post information about post-doc appointments, since there are an increasing number of those in philosophy, many quite attractive. No anonymous posts will be allowed. (Please e-mail me about any errors.)
The format of the postings should be as follows: candidate's name (name of PhD-granting school) hired by [name of school]. AOS: ________; any prior positions (e.g., a postdoc, a lectureship, a visiting asst prof position). In the case of a post-doc, it should say not 'hired by' but 'post-doc at' [name of school].
Here's a fictional example:
Jane M. Jones (Rutgers) hired by University of California, Santa Barbara. AOS: Philosophy of Language. Previously a post-doc at Yale.
"Hired by" means a tenure-track or permanent position; a post-doc should be listed as "John Smith (Harvard) post-doc at University of Michigan."
Remember: tenure-track jobs and postdocs only. Please submit information only once; postings should appear within 24 hours.
THE ONLY PERSONS ELIGIBLE TO POST INFORMATION ARE: the candidates themselves; the chair of the hiring department; or the placement chair of the candidate's department. Three years ago, however, a placement chair jumped the gun in posting, so please, placement chairs, make sure it is OK with your students that the information appear!
I print, in its entirety, a response I received from Simona Bizzozero, the Head of Public Relations at QS. I intersperse her response with some comments and corrections of my own, and then conclude with some questions that are still unanswered:
Dear Professor Leiter,
In response to the concerns that you raise about the QS academic reputation survey, we would like to clarify several serious inaccuracies in the piece. While we respect your right to disagree with the measures we employ to compile our rankings, we feel it is important that you base your conclusions on the correct information.
As we will see, there were no "serious" inaccuracies, just a single minor one, to which we will return shortly. In fact, the main allegations of my correspondents are actually now confirmed by QS.
First, some background: The QS academic reputation survey is one of six indicators used to compile the QS World University Rankings, and also feeds into various other QS research outputs and rankings. In 2012 over 46,000 valid responses worldwide were considered, making it the largest survey of its kind in the world.
QS's conception of a "valid" response will become clear shortly.
In May this year, QS became the first compiler of global and regional rankings to be awarded the “IREG Approved” label for three of its research outputs (including the QS World University Rankings). This followed a comprehensive independent audit of the methodology and all data collection processes (including the academic reputation survey), to which QS voluntarily submitted.
What is IREG, you ask? Here is its Executive Committee; it includes Bob Morse, who produces the notorious U.S. News rankings. Mr. Morse is a journalist turned editor, with no qualifications as an expert on higher education, statistical methods, or anything else one might think relevant. The presence of Mr. Morse on the Executive Committee, and several others involved in the business of world university rankings, raises doubts about the integrity of IREG--doubts made worse when one realizes that U.S. News now reprints the QS rankings under its own brand! In other words, the QS rankings are "approved" by an organization whose executive committee includes an editor who profits off the QS rankings.
The purpose of the audit, conducted by independent experts, was to verify that the rankings are compiled professionally and with a transparent methodology. Successful organisations also need to show that they observe good practices and respond to a need for relevant information from a range of stakeholders, in particular students, higher education institutions, employers and policy makers.
The QS World University Rankings were found to satisfy all of these criteria. We therefore feel justified in querying the use of the term “shady” in relation to our rankings, and also in pointing out that your claim that our rankings are “a fraud upon the public” is contradicted by the established facts.
So far, there are no "established facts" at all. There is an alleged audit by an organization that is not at all "independent" of QS claiming that the QS rankings "are compiled professionally and with a transparent methodology." Until the audit is published, and the independent "experts" named, this is all public relations, and nothing more. In fact, as we consider some examples of the complete lack of relevant transparency in the QS methodology, this will just raise further questions about IREG, which looks to me, at this point, like a front organization for legitimating bogus ranking systems.
The winner is Nathaniel Sharadin (North Carolina) for his project "Understanding Reasons." I can't recall the last time only one philosophy graduate student received a Newcombe. Past lists of winners can be found here (and follow the links).
For those who might be interested, the submission deadline is May 31, 2013. All papers will be sent out for blind review, and they must also be submitted via the electronic submission process specified at the Inquiry homepage. (Lots of other special issues of Inquiry coming up too, though submission deadlines vary.)
The IRS scrutiny of Tea Party groups applying for tax exempt charitable status derived from a legitimate concern at the more than doubling of such requests after the Citizens United ruling, and a suspicion that the groups were backed by Republican billionaires intending to use them for politics, not charity. It may be that the scrutiny was sometimes invidious, but it is not obvious on the surface as to whether the bureaucrats actually did anything out of the ordinary (left wing requests for tax exempt status were flat; if they had suddenly doubled presumably they would have attracted attention, too.)
It's here, and is no doubt designed with the 2011 fiasco in mind. Hopefully, it means that no more issues of the journal will be published in which the editors-in-chief append disclaimers (for which there has still been no apology...hence the boycott continues).
OK, I'm just anticipating the blog headline from the usual blowhards--InstaIgnorance, the Volokh naifs like Zywicki, or William "thank God no one knows what the actual Cornell Law faculty thinks of me" Jacobson--who are beside themselves with paranoid pleasure that the IRS was examining the non-profit bona fides of the various Koch Brothers front organizations posing as "social welfare" organizations. As best I can tell--non-tax lawyer, but literate person that I am--there is a tax exemption for social welfare organizations that aren't primarily poliitcal front groups. But for reasons familiar to anyone awake the last couple of years, the political front groups most likely to be posing as "social welfare" organizations were on the lunatic right associated with the "Tea Party" and like organizations. Their tax-exempt status did indeed demand scrutiny, unless one thought front groups for billionaires (and others) merit special deference when they want to avoid taxes. This is the second decade of the 21st-century, in which, at least in the United States, most "spontaneous grass root" organizations on the right are neither spontaneous nor grass root, and so responsible tax authorities ought to scrutinize them.
Of course, there's a deeper, philosophcal issue here: namely, whether venal groups that shill for the plutocracy can, in any sense, be organizations committed to "social welfare." But the IRS needn't get to the philosophical issue to nonetheless be justified in looking closely.
He writes: "I'm proud to report there is incredible interest in philosophical reflection among my high school students. Several follow your blog. 190 have signed up for an introductory class next year at our high school." That's really impressive!
Mr. Raisch (whose e-mail is on the syllabus, above) welcomes correspondece with others interested in teaching high school philosophy courses.
Daniel Hutto (philosophy of mind and psychology) at the University of Hertfordshire has accepted appointment, effective Winter 2014, as Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wollongong in Australia. He will also continue to have a quarter-time appointment at Hertfordshire.
An untenured philosopher at a religiously-affiliated university in the American South writes:
I’ve noticed that the (rather shady!) QS rankings have appeared on your blog several times – and thought it might be interesting to briefly share my experience as a QS ‘evaluator’.
One summer not all that long ago, I was short on cash and signed up for a paid survey site. Generally, this involved filling out online surveys about cell phones, toilet paper, and frozen vegetables for a reward of between $1 and $5. One of the stranger surveys that came up was something called the QS Rankings. I assumed that I was selected to participate because of my educational background and employment (PhD in philosophy, employed full time by a university), and completed the survey without much thought.
Here is how the survey went. First, I was asked to choose my discipline from a list of about 10 options as well as my continent and country; I chose ‘Humanities’, ‘North America’, and ‘United States’. Next, I was asked to type in the five best universities in the US for the study of humanities; then I was asked to type in up to 15 top universities for the study of humanities in North America other than the five I put in before. Finally, I was asked about my ‘sub-discipline’; I was asked to type in five top universities in the world for the study of philosophy.
The survey seemed awfully suspicious at the time, and I did not imagine that the results could have any sort of serious impact. Of course – I have not done much investigation into the QS rankings, and I would imagine that they use criteria other than paid surveys – but ranking universities by using a paid survey site seems to be poor methodology, for a number of reasons!
So the QS rankings are being completed by people who happen to sign up to be paid to complete surveys! (At least this individual was actually a philosopher!) I'd be interested to hear from others who may have been surveyed by QS, and if so, how. If they are really doing something as suspect as trolling fee-based survey sites for respondents, then this makes me wonder about the data bases they use for the purportedly 'objective' measures like citations and H-indices. Why doesn't QS disclose the faculty lists they use?
UPDATE: A philosopher in the Middle East writes:
As you mentioned you'd be interested to hear about how the QS company does the surveys, I thought I email you.
I received an email (actually, 12 emails consecutively) on April 16 this year asking me to register and complete the survey. I didn't do it, as it looked dubious. First, it came from a person from a "petroleum and minerals" university in Saudi Arabia, which has nothing to do with humanities whatsoever (it has no such fields of study): http://www.kfupm.edu.sa/default.aspx
Second, I could not find any info about the person who sent me the email. I googled his name, email, affiliation -- no result.
Below is the complete message.
Sub: Requesting your time for participating in the QS World Rankings Survey 2013.
The opinion of academics forms the very core of the QS World University RankingsR - the most widely circulated of the world rankings. As a leading
academic, and someone who has been associated with King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM), I am writing to request a few minutes of your
precious time to have your say in the 2013 Academic Peer Review Survey.
You will receive a message from QS providing you the link to complete the survey. If you have not received the survey, then I would like to request
Thank you for your time and please contact me if you have any questions.
Administrative Assistant to the Rector
King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM)
Dhahran 31261, Saudi Arabia
AND MORE: A law and philosophy scholar, not presently in a tenure-track position, writes:
A while ago (more than a year ago, but I can't remember for sure how long ago) I got an email like the one your correspondent got, about surveys of academic programs. I _think_mine was about philosophy, but it might have been law. I started filling it out, but pretty soon gave up- it was taking too long, and, given the odd way it was set up, I didn't really feel like I could answer well. As in the email you got, it asked for names of departments, didn't give lists of schools (let alone of faculty), and so on. It was obviously going to lean heavily towards names people could easily recall. And, while I think I'm competent to contribute to such surveys in some areas, this one and in this style left me pretty unsure that I was contributing anything, so I didn't finish it. I didn't think much of it at the time, but now I'm pretty sure it was the QS rankings. Apparently they more or less randomly email people and ask them to do a really poorly crafted survey, among other things!
The news even made the right-wing media. The criminals in the Reagan Administration who embraced and supported him will, of course, "go free," indeed, probably enjoy sinecures at the Hoover Institute. And the fact will remain that the United States, like every dominant power in world history, will continue to support criminals, butchers, and genocidal maniacs as long as it accrues to the advantage of domestic elites. But it would be rude to point that out. So we won't.
Supporters and opponents of gun control have very different fundamental beliefs about the role of guns in American society. Overall, the poll finds that 29 percent of Americans think that an armed revolution in order to protect liberties might be necessary in the next few years, with another five percent unsure. However, these beliefs are conditional on party. Just 18 percent of Democrats think an armed revolution may be necessary, as opposed to 44 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of independents.
The next time someone refers to the alleged "independents," please remember that one-quarter of them are gearing up for armed revolution.
For 2013, though now one can break out the results, which is revealing. (For past coverage of the Quirky Silliness rankings, do see this--recall this was the company dumped by the Times Higher Education Supplement, for good reason as best I can tell.)
Here are the top 20 U.S. departments according to the "academic reputation" survey they allegedly conduct--they provide no information on how many responses they got, from where, who the evaluators were, etc.--the results are a hodge-podge of "halo effect" of university name (I am told they only ask about university names, not actual faculty lists), occasionally some evidence that the PGR has had some influence, plus peculiarities of the geographic breakdown of the respondents (one suspects a lot of German philosophers responded, given how well German departments do and given which U.S. departments over-performed):
Professor Willard taught at the University of Southern California for more than forty years, and was especially well-known for his work in Christian philosophy, though he also worked extensively on phenomenology. There is biographical information here, his USC page is here, and a memorial notice is here.
Peter Fosl (Transylvania) posted this item on Facebook with the following apt preface (which he gave me permission to quote):
From rising costs, to post-tenure review, to the eliminating of tenure and the substitution of adjuncts, to hierarchical rankings (by the corporate/non-academic press), to the shift in power from faculty to administrators, to measuring scholarship quantitatively, to measuring teaching quantitatively, to thinking about education and scholarship as a product, to crushing student loan debt--it's all the bloody ravaging by Reagan-Thatcher and their minions of our ancient and hallowed academy.
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)