Philosophy at Two-Year Colleges


Approximately 90% of community colleges offer courses in philosophy, and those courses are taken by roughly 255,000 to 275,000 students per term, or about 4% of the enrolled students, according to recent research by Humanities Indicators (HI).

Focusing on data from Fall of 2015, HI also found that around 5,000 faculty teach philosophy courses at community colleges.

from “Survey on Humanities in Community Colleges” by Humanities Indicators

Also, 4-7% of the students enrolled in philosophy courses at community colleges were dually enrolled high school students.

from “Survey on Humanities in Community Colleges” by Humanities Indicators

The research was published as part of HI’s Survey on Humanities in Community Colleges. Humanities Indicators is a project of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Thanks to Robert B. Townsend, Director of the Washington Office of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, for sharing this information.


Related posts: “Philosophy at Community College“; “Philosophy Jobs at Community Colleges

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Richard E. Hennessey
Richard E. Hennessey
2 years ago

The data are significant, to be sure, but perhaps there’s room for discussing the challenges and rewards of teaching in a community college.Report

Almost Tenured CC Prof
Almost Tenured CC Prof
Reply to  Richard E. Hennessey
2 years ago

Challenges:
1. Heavy 5-5 teaching load
2. Being the only philosophy professor on my small campus
3. Underprepared students

Rewards:
1. I get to read about, think about, and talk about philosophy all day – and get fairly well paid to do so
2. Publications are appreciated but not required. I have a relatively stress-free work environment because of this and sometimes have time to write. I’ve heard horror stories of people at research universities who sacrificed years to get high quality pubs and were still denied tenure. As long as I teach well and am not a jerk, I’m pretty much guaranteed to get tenure.
3. This might not be the case at every CC, but I have a lot of freedom to teach what I want, when I wantReport

CC Adjunct
CC Adjunct
2 years ago

I’m teaching in an adjunct role at a community college, so can supplement Almost Tenured CC Prof’s analysis with some from a Not-Even-Close To Tenured CC Prof.

Challenges:
1. Being required to teach from an assigned textbook, rather than choosing my own course materials
2. Heavy 4-4 load with no benefits, poverty-level wages, and little hope of a permanent position
3. Same as Almost Tenured CC Prof–unprepared students
4. Uninterested students (though this applies regardless of institution type!)

Rewards:
1. I get to read about, think about, and talk about philosophy all day
2. My department chair and colleagues are easy to get along with
3. I get to teach more diverse students than I would at an elite private college. Many of my students are adults, some are veterans, some are parents, many haven’t had much economic or racial privilege. They have the kind of life experience that highlights why seemingly abstract philosophical issues are actually pressing.
4. No committee workReport

Derek Bowman
Derek Bowman
2 years ago

Challenges (also): Getting one of the full-time jobs Almost Tenured CC Prof has instead of getting stuck in the part-time adjunct positions that dominate CC teaching.Report

Richard E. Hennessey
Richard E. Hennessey
Reply to  Derek Bowman
2 years ago

Yup. But isn’t it the case that that is a growing problem at four-year schools? And shouldn’t that make you feel better?Report

ajkreider
ajkreider
Reply to  Derek Bowman
2 years ago

One thing worth looking into might be leaning on accrediting bodies. I’m told that CCs in, say, Massachusetts have upwards of 80% of sections taught by adjuncts. That would get us in trouble with our SACS accreditation. We’re closer to 50/50, and that’s in part because we had to do an emergency hire of 100(!) faculty one July. I’m not sure why different bodies have such different rules. Colleges will do whatever it takes to keep in good standing, as their finances depend on it.

I wouldn’t know how to start that process, and it would obviously affect adjuncts in all disciplines.Report