The 2017-18 Philosophical Gourmet Report (PGR) has been released here. It includes “specialty rankings” for various areas, including Chinese philosophy. This year, for the first time, I was invited to be among the evaluators, and after wrestling with this a bit, decided to give it a try. As explained at the top of this page, evaluators see lists of faculty and then choose one of the following categories:
- 0 – Inadequate for a PhD program
- 1 – Marginal
- 2 – Adequate
- 3 – Good
- 4 – Strong
- 5 – Distinguished
Evaluators can do this for the program overall, and then for the various specialties. I chose to only rank the Chinese philosophy specialty (I did not select overall rankings). The vast majority I assigned a score of 0. I believe that the highest score I gave was a 3. Programs that have one or even two specialists can be — other things being equal — good places to study. But in my judgment there are no English-language programs that merit “strong” or “distinguished” rankings. In my view, that would take multiple specialists, and others with cognate interests, in the context of an overall strong and supportive department. We may get there one day, but we’re not there yet.
I have mixed views about this whole rankings thing, which has been discussed before on the blog. What we have tried to do here at Warp, Weft, and Way is provide as much objective information about graduate study as possible. But since PGR exists and I was invited to take part, I decided to give it a try.
One other thing. As Bryan Van Norden (another evaluator, and also someone on the Advisory Board) explains here, PGR policy is that programs need to have a certain minimum overall score in order to be ranked. Programs with significant “specialty” strengths but without the minimum overall score end up being listed as “Additional programs not evaluated this year but recommended for consideration by the Advisory Board.” I agree with Bryan’s sentiment that the programs listed under this rubric are as strong as the ones officially ranked, and thus disapprove of this policy, which I find to be highly misleading.