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11/3/2016 » 11/5/2016
Philosophy Born of Struggle XXIII

APA National Office Closed

Statement on Unaffiliated Philosophers
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The following statement was prepared initially by an organization of department chairs and adopted by the APA board of officers in 1977 on the recommendation of Ruth Marcus, chair.

The academic community has a responsibility to do what it can to help scholars who are suffering a period of academic unemployment because of the continuing academic job crisis. The purpose of the following suggestions is to help these scholars get the professional feedback which is important in maintaining the ability to do good research.

In the following, two levels of professional association with an educational institution are detailed. The first level, called "associate scholar," represents a minimum condition for continuation of scholarly life. The second level, called "associate fellow," would be a closer association aimed at maximizing collegial relationships with members of an existing academic department.

We feel that both suggestions should be implemented at all institutions of higher learning. Details of the implementation should reflect the particular needs of the institution and the local unaffiliated scholars.

Level I: Associate Scholar

Associate scholar status is open to anyone with graduate training or scholarly research in philosophy, who is not presently affiliated with an institution of higher education. The associate scholar would be granted full library privileges, and would be on the departmental mailing list for notification about public and intradepartmental colloquia, lectures, etc.

Level II: Associate Fellow

Professionally unemployed scholars who wish to maintain active ties to the academic community should be encouraged to apply for an appointment as associate fellow to an educational institution in the city in which they live. Associate fellow would be an unsalaried position with library privileges but no departmental duties. Since it is important that the associate fellow be accepted as the professional equal of departmental colleagues (rather than as a second class citizen), the application should contain the same supporting information as an application for a regular position; and it should be rejected unless the applicant appears to be of professional caliber equal to present members of the department. (It should not, however, be judged on the basis of whether the applicant would be offered a job in that department in the present competitive situation. Thus, the department would have made no commitment as to the applicant's suitability for any job which might open up in the department). Associate fellow appointments should be for a period of three to five years and should be renewed if the associate fellow had maintained his or her standing as a research scholar.

Advantages for the department

  • An expanded group of local professional colleagues
  • A better age distribution in the group of colleagues

Advantages for the associate fellow

  • A group of professional equals with whom the fellow could discuss his or her own work and current work in the field
  • An academic mailing address
  • Opportunity to present the fellow's own work at departmental colloquia
  • Professional status
  • Library privileges

The most important advantage for the associate fellow would be the feeling of being accepted as a professional by a group of professional colleagues. It is easy (at least when one is young) to think of oneself as making a living as, e.g., a carpenter, and doing research in the evenings and on weekends. But it is difficult to work in a professional vacuum. Present employment conditions ensure that some very good scholars will have a period of academic unemployment. For some, associate fellow status will ease the pain of transition to a non-scholarly lifestyle; for some, it will allow the evolution of a permanent scholarly but non-academic lifestyle; for some, it will facilitate re-entry into an academic job. In all cases it should make the experience of academic unemployment much less destructive.

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