Allan Hazlett recommends replacing the current search procedures with an NFL style draft. He says one of the big advantages of this procedure is that we could replace all the costs of interviews etc with one big draft day extravaganza. But surely this is a mistake – the NFL draft has just as many expenses pre draft day as we have. The ‘exhibition’ games like the Senior Bowl, the combines, private workouts and so on are just as expensive as campus interviews etc.
That got me thinking, why don’t we have combines in philosophy? That is, why don’t we have somewhere where every student on the market can turn up and present a paper and field questions and generally show what they’re made of? Well, you might say, how could we arrange such a thing, and wouldn’t it be expensive and so on? Maybe, but I have an idea.
Why not replace all the papers, or at least all the colloquium papers, at the APA Eastern with papers by new candidates? One problem is that this would require making the conference a little bigger – or at least require more papers being on simultaneously. This year there were a little under 100 colloquium papers, but there are more than 100 new PhD students going on the market. Still, with only a small expansion of the colloquium program (and perhaps cutting back on the symposiums) we could give every new candidate a chance to present a paper. Ideally these would be commentator-free. Even more ideally the candidate would present a short summary of a pre-posted paper and the bulk of the hour could be spent responding to questions as at BSPC. This would mean hiring departments would have to send scouts as well as interviewers (if they are interviewing) but I think it could be really useful. For one thing, departments could have different scouts go to different papers and so get a chance to have a look in person at many more candidates than they do now.
Note this is not like my wild suggestion that the APA Central go unrefereed. That’s a good idea that I don’t think will ever happen. I think going the whole way and making the APA Eastern entirely a hiring conference, with the papers being hiring related just like everything else, really could happen. And I think it could be a good change.
This isn’t mean to be an endorsement of the draft idea. Allan’s 5th point, that drafts stop dynasties forming, strikes me as a really bad feature of the draft. I like dynasties. When I think about just how nasty good [insert name of department I’ll be in next year here] could be over the next few years, I start to …
Sorry. Got carried away there. It’s Superbowl week, it’s too easy to get excited. Too much time reading Bill Simmons’s Superbowl blog gives me too many big ideas. Back to normal now.