State of the Field(s)?

The university I have taught at for thirty years (!) does not have PhD programs (except in sciences and music, for various historical reasons). Over the years, though, I have been asked to serve as an external member on PhD committees of, or even co-supervise, quite a number of students whose home department did not have sufficient expertise in their desired area of research. Since 2004, 18 such folks have successfully defended their dissertations, and I thought it might possibly be interesting to share the range of disciplines:

  • Philosophy = 4
  • Political Theory = 6
  • Religion = 3
  • Asian Studies / Chinese = 5

To some degree, of course, this is going to reflect my idiosyncratic interests. But I found myself wondering if the breakdown here points to anything more general. Are fewer people studying topics related to Confucianism in philosophy departments than in political theory or Asian studies? Or are political theory programs less likely than others to be able to support a dissertation on a Confucian topic without external help? Or … but rather than continuing to speculate by myself, I thought I’d open this up to see whether you all out there have ideas.

2 replies on “State of the Field(s)?”

  1. Thank you for your significant contribution to the academy, Steve! This is truly a substantial effort, with much work involved. The number of supervised/co-supervised PhD students in each discipline provides a clear reflection of the current state of Confucian studies in the English-speaking world. If I were to rank the interest and capacity in Confucian studies by different disciplines/departments, it would likely align closely with the list you just provided. As for questions, I’ll let others chime in.

  2. As a current philosophy MA student, I’m curious as to whether the relative distribution has changed over time. Was there a greater proportion of Asian Studies/Chinese PhDs in the past, and more in Philosophy more recently, for example? Or has the distribution stayed consistent over the years?

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