Philosophy Colloquia: How Much Does Your Department Pay Speakers?


A philosophy professor in charge of his department’s colloquium series has asked what the norms are regarding honoraria.

Specifically, he wanted to know how common it is for philosophy departments to pay guest speakers who take part in their regular colloquium series, and how much departments tend to pay when they do.

There’s a one-question poll below to help gather this information.

His inquiry is not about department expenditures on travel, lodging, or meals for the guest speaker, but rather about honoraria, or payment to the speaker for the event. Additionally, the question is about your department’s regular guest speaker series, or colloquia, not special named lectures, conference keynote addresses, and the like.

Thanks for answering the poll.

[UPDATE: Thanks to a comment from Kate Norlock, I realize I ought to have noted that the inquirer is based in the United States. While I’m sure we’ve already had respondents from all over up, if you are just about to answer the poll, please do so only if you’re at a U.S. department. Thank you.]

Does your department normally pay an honorarium to guest speakers in its colloquium series, and if so, how much? (Note: "honorarium" here means a payment in addition to any reimbursement for travel, meals, etc.; also, the question is not about named lectures, conference keynote addresses, etc., but about your department's regular guest speaker series)

Discussion welcome.

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Tom Sparrow
Tom Sparrow
10 months ago

We pay honoraria for speakers through our philosophy club, which gets its budget from the student government association on campus. The honoraria for three annual guest speakers is the bulk of the club’s relatively modest budget, compared to the bigger and costlier clubs on campus. This approach enables us to offer a generous speaker fee.

Clint Verdonschot
10 months ago

The Dutch Society for Aesthetics recently invited a curator as keynote speaker who inquired after our policy regarding honoraria, which prompted a debate among the board (since we didn’t have such a policy). I’ve no conclusive findings to report, but it did leave me with the sense that among art professionals (at least in the NL), people are more forthright asking to be paid for what is essentially also labour, even though they are probably not at all better paid than academics for giving lectures and the like.

Patrick Lin
10 months ago

This isn’t our official or departmental policy, but I usually limit our honoraria to under $600 because, in the US, amounts greater than that trigger extra income-tax work (for everyone involved), incl. requiring a 1099-K form:

https://www.irs.gov/businesses/understanding-your-form-1099-k

That said, we’ve given greater amounts depending on the situation, e.g., availability of funds or farther travel distances. But a free trip to California is usually its own draw, and most folks don’t ask or care about an honorarium.

They’re also understanding when we can’t offer much of an honorarium since Cal Poly is a public school with limited funds. We typically make up for it by showing them a good time, e.g., nice dinner, wine tasting at some of the 200+ wineries in SLO county, a trip to one of our beaches, and/or local tour + hike, etc.

Kate Norlock
10 months ago

Justin, are you/ is the original enquiry asking only about American programs? If so, maybe update the poll to specify (since I don’t think a mix of UK, EU, Canada, and other nation’s programs into these answers will really yield the answer an American is looking for).

Patrick Lin
Reply to  Kate Norlock
10 months ago

Now I’m curious what the honoraria norm is outside the US. Is the sense that it’s a more commonplace practice, or a higher level of payment, elsewhere? (I know the US is an outlier in many things, such as tipping.)

Peter Finocchiaro
Peter Finocchiaro
Reply to  Patrick Lin
10 months ago

I can’t speak for elsewhere in the world, but in Mainland China honorariums for colloquium talks are common.

Northern European
Reply to  Patrick Lin
10 months ago

I am based in Europe, and we do not offer any honorarium to colloquium speakers. I am not even sure if it is allowed. The honor is being invited to give a talk at our university 😉
Of course, travel, accommodations, and meals are covered.

giulia
giulia
Reply to  Patrick Lin
10 months ago

I’ve worked in philosophy departments in the UK, Brazil and Portugal and have never known invited speakers to be paid.

Neil Levy
Neil Levy
Reply to  Patrick Lin
10 months ago

Honoria are unusual, to say the least, in Australia and the UK. Expenses and a meal is the usual payment.

Fritz Allhoff
10 months ago

For us, it depends on whether we have co-sponsors, so the answer is either $0 or $500+. And whether we have co-sponsors depends on whether it’s more narrow/technical philosophy, or else something more public-facing (i.e., whether other academic units or administrators are likely to care).

At the same time, even bringing someone in for one night (hotel + travel), and taking them out to dinner (with graduate students), can easily be ~$1,000 already, before even thinking about honoraria.

Unlike my buddy Pat, the beaches and wineries in Michigan aren’t as regaled as the ones in California. But we sure like them anyway. 😉

Patrick Lin
Reply to  Fritz Allhoff
10 months ago

But ya got Bell’s Brewery in K-zoo, and that’s something!

Patrick Lin
Reply to  Fritz Allhoff
10 months ago

Yeah, it’s usually either $0 or $500 for me, too. Amounts in between don’t make much sense, unless the speaker really needs it or as a symbolic gesture, I guess.

And even then, I would first offer to cover another hotel-night, or extra plane ticket for a partner, or something else instead, since travel reimbursements aren’t taxable, in contrast to an honorarium which still requires more paperwork even without having to file a 1099-K…

Stephen
Stephen
10 months ago

For visiting speakers we charge $500 for 75 minutes and $700 for 90 minutes. That includes use of a room, an interested audience, a lively Q&A, and a bottle of water. If the speaker would like to be taken to dinner afterwards, that’s an additional $150.

Cecil Burrow
Reply to  Stephen
10 months ago

> For visiting speakers we charge $500 for 75 minutes and $700 for 90 minutes.

So you’re making visiting speakers pay? I guess that is the state of academia these days …

Stephan
Stephan
Reply to  Stephen
10 months ago

Do you take PayPal?

Kenny Easwaran
9 months ago

I’ve found that this varies between areas of philosophy as well. I’ve generally found that people who interact with the humanities are more likely to expect there to be an honorarium, while people who interact with the sciences are more likely to expect there not to be one, though it’s possible my experiences here have been un-representative. (I would have guessed that honoraria were more common in Europe than in North America, but several other people in the comments seem to be suggesting the opposite – it makes sense that my experience as a North American would be non-representative of the two continents.)

Sergio Tenenbaum
Sergio Tenenbaum
Reply to  Kenny Easwaran
9 months ago

I think honoraria for visiting speakers are not allowed in many universities in Europe due to state funding rules (at least that what I was once told, but I never looked closely into it).