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Kathryn Norlock
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I should add, since I just wrote that graduate faculty should change some practices, that I also think undergraduate faculty should, too. I recently started a presentation with the comment that at most undergrad institutions, our curriculum in our majors still prepares our students to be tenure-track professors in the 20th century, but they're not likely to be tenure-tracked, and it's not the 20th century. So those of us tenured and responsible for such curricula have our work cut out for us, too.
Some of us who came to Philosophy from low incomes didn't see a life of debt and possible unemployment as all that much of a change in our current state, so it's wasn't dissuading to get the APA letter (I was applying in the '90s) that poverty and debt may await. My reaction was, "I already knew that!" The essay addresses the overall situation very well, and it moves me to think more about the different tasks before professors at undergraduate institutions and those educating graduate students. I tend to be supportive of my undergraduate students' interests in Master's Degrees, and make it clear to them that MAs tend to have long-term returns in private-sector employment that PhDs do not tend to (on the whole). As I've only taught at undergraduate programs, I have, like Laurie, seen my students' interests as the chief obligation, and I'm concerned that as Bat-Ami Bar On so saliently observes in her essay, faculty at graduate programs neither want their own jobs to change very much (when it comes to the education and training of graduate students), nor seem completely alive to the realities of the change in the job market. Every year I am provided increasingly scarce resources to staff courses, and told to make do with part-time hiring and, if I am very lucky, a very few full-time, one-year positions. A tenure-track search has become a very rare thing. It is my hope that R1 faculty and graduate-student advisers explicitly attend to these realities, and to some reconfiguring of the purposes and practices of graduate schooling (and the messages about the profession they are endorsing). Their students would listen to them. I don't believe their students will be more persuaded by statistics and APA missives than they would be by their own advisers.
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Sep 20, 2015