Philosophy Department Statement on Scholarship

Definition of Scholarship

Our department identifies three forms of scholarship—original research, public scholarship, and professional development.

Original research is the activity of asking and answering significant philosophical, pedagogical, or interdisciplinary questions. Its results are typically expressed in peer-reviewed written works such as scholarly monographs, journal articles, book chapters, encyclopedia articles, translations, edited volumes, and critical editions. They are also expressed in competitively selected presentation of papers at professional conferences, in invited papers and presentations, and in service as respondent or referee for professional conferences, journals, and publishers.

Public scholarship is the publication and presentation of research to non-specialist audiences and the engagement with the public sphere on the basis of research expertise. It occurs in such venues as published book reviews, op-eds, textbooks, panel-discussions, media interviews, and non-academic speaking engagements.

Professional development is the cultivation of new research skills and capacities. It includes the expansion of research areas and acquisition or enhancement skills such as new research languages, technological proficiencies, and research techniques. It may also include service as an organizer or moderator for professional conferences and panels, service as an officer in professional societies, and work in scholarly mentoring programs.

Definition of Peer Review

Peer review is the process through which research questions, strategies, and results are examined, evaluated, and given feedback by experts in one’s field. Our department recognizes several forms of peer review. These include the blind peer review process used by refereed academic journals as well as the evaluation and feedback given by academic publishers and editors throughout the publication process of academic monographs, book chapters, and edited volumes. Peer review is also expressed in the competitive selection of papers for certain academic conferences. A further form of peer review is invitation, because of reputation or expertise, to present lectures, workshops, or panel discussions, or to serve as a moderator, respondent, or evaluator at professional or interdisciplinary gatherings.

Relationship of Original Research to Teaching

Our department affirms that an active program of original research enhances effective teaching. Engagement with ongoing debates in the discipline, conversation and collaboration with scholars in philosophy and other fields, and the intellectual stimulation of an active research program, bring enthusiasm and depth to the classroom. Faculty research connects our students to the larger intellectual world and provides direct course content where appropriate. We encourage our faculty to act as mentors to students, involving them in faculty research when possible and exemplifying scholarly inquiry.

Expectations for Promotion

Our department expects its members to be involved in original research and to engage in public scholarship and active professional development. Within this framework, we grant each member latitude in identifying and pursuing scholarly goals. We do not intend for the tenure/promotion process to depend upon a checklist of "minimum requirements," but on an overall assessment of each candidate's full range of scholarly work.

  • By the time of third-year review, the faculty member should be able to demonstrate developing and promising research projects. This will typically include public presentation of research (in the form of lectures, paper presentations, and/or publication), involvement in peer conversation, and submission of research to refereed conferences, journals, and/or other peer-reviewed venues.
  • By the time a faculty member is nominated for tenure and/or associate professor rank, the candidate should have an active research agenda, regular presentation of research, peer-reviewed publications, and a plan for ongoing scholarly activity.
  • By the time of nomination for promotion to full professor, the candidate should have a record of consistent presentation of research at competitive or invited venues, and publication since tenure in peer-reviewed journals and/or books. By this time the candidate will also normally have begun communicating research to the wider public and mentoring professional colleagues.

Beyond these general expectations for achievement in original research, public scholarship, and professional development, the department intends to allow flexibility for faculty members to shape their own scholarly activity.

Scholarship at a Liberal Arts College of the Church

A liberal arts college of the church concerns itself with the deepest questions about meaning, persons, and the nature of reality. Since these are philosophical questions, and since philosophy also explores ways in which the various academic disciplines together address them, all forms of scholarship in philosophy should flourish in institutions like Luther College. In addition, such institutions encourage faculty to go beyond narrow disciplinary boundaries by raising broad, value-focused questions in areas such as pedagogy, applied ethics, the nature of faith and learning, vocation and living a good life, and other fundamental interdisciplinary topics. Because philosophy explicitly concerns itself with ultimate questions that reach across disciplines, it can uniquely flourish within, and uniquely contribute to, interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching at a liberal arts college of the church.

(October 2012)