May 1, 2007

Professional Development

This entry is a collection of resources for professional development.

The Geography Faculty Development Alliance offers summer workshops for junior faculty and advanced graduate students who teach. In addition to pedagogical workshops and information about how to manage a beginning academic career, the workshops get very positive ratings for the collegiality and networking that occurs when like-minded people spend a couple of weeks together. Professor Ken Foote has an NSF grant to fund the workshops: check out the entire program at

March 6, 2007

tracking search committee deliberations

For those in the academic job search, there is a wiki you can peruse (and contribute to) that tracks search committee deliberations - first cut, interviews scheduled, interviewing, offers, acceptances, etc. It covers lots of fields. There's a category for geography - but also check urban studies if your position is urban geography-oriented.

Here's the wiki:

It's a lot less intrusive than calling or emailing search committee chairs - although that has its place as well, especially if you are a finalist in more than one location, and want to make the most-informed decision.

November 25, 2006

preparing for the interview

Of course there is no way to anticipate every question that you will be asked in an interview or campus visit. However, many questions are relatively standard, and if you think about them beforehand, and mentally prepare good answers, your actual answers will be that much more convincing.

The following site is designed for prospective professors in advertising and marketing, but most of the questions are relevant to academic job-seekers in other fields:

A more meta approach to attitude-related questions that sort out the "fit" and collegiality issues in hiring, including questions you might expect from deans and college presidents, is here:

For research-oriented institutions, this list of questions from an American Studies search is helpful in preparing:
Source: Mary Corbin Sies, Dept. of American Studies, University of Maryland, College Park.

A big part of the interview(s) is having good questions to ask the different people you'll meet. The American Political Science Association has established a list of agreed-upon questions that institutions will answer:

The following article in Chronicle of Higher Education also discusses the kinds of questions you should ask in interviews:

Not included in these question lists, but also something to consider, is a group of questions some of our grad students recently faced in campus visits: How do you encourage diversity? Describe how you have worked/would work to promote diversity in this department and in your courses. The Chronicles of Higher Education recently issued a special report on diversity: see

creating a research statement

This is a placeholder for future information.

statement of teaching interests

Recent job postings we’ve seen request a “statement of teaching interests? rather than the teaching philosophy described in the previous entry. In a recent panel in a Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) course, several seasoned search committee members opined that the teaching philosophy is deadly to read and doesn’t really give much idea of how effective the person would be as a teacher. I think that the statement of teaching interests might be a much better way to convey that.

What is a statement of teaching interests? There appears to be no consensus on the terminology, but here are some different approaches:

1. “Say what you can teach.? The following site is mainly about how to organize your entire dossier, with specific information about how to organize your CV, but down near the bottom of the page is this information about writing a teaching statement:

“A “Statement of Teaching Interests? is typically required as part of the application process for an Assistant Professor position. Tell the reader what you feel competent to teach. If you are applying for a job where teaching biochemistry is one of the requirements as stated in the job ad, then you better be sure you tell them you want to teach biochemistry. This may sound trite, but you would be amazed at the number of people who fail to follow this seemingly self-evident step.? See

2. The umbrella document. The following site at Emory University conceives of the Statement of Teaching Interests as an umbrella document that contains the teaching philosophy, a description of teaching experiences (courses, lectures, workshops, etc.), a description of efforts to improve teaching (workshops, courses, etc.), and then appendices such as syllabi, lecture handout, assignments, and teaching evaluations. See, skip down to the second page.

3. Some samples:

This computer science example is interesting because it combines prior experience, advising experience, and teaching interests in a single narrative. I think it would be even more effective if it included a paragraph on approach to teaching computer science.

This web-based teaching statement by psychology professor Cynthia Angel is well-organized, with logical categories and a lot of information. I especially like the details about the courses she’s already taught:

Here is another nicely organized one: nuts and bolts, bullet-format rather than narrative. I especially like the categories; for me they really help to understand this person as a teacher:

October 12, 2006

creating a teaching philosophy

This entry contains links to sites that offer ideas about developing a teaching philosophy, which are often required as a component of the job application, whether incorporated into the cover letter, or attached as a separate document.

We’ve organized them as follows: first, some resources that provide context (What is its purpose? How will it be used?); second, some practical, step-by-step guides; and last, some sample statements.


The Chronicles of Higher Education has this news article about the value of teaching statements in evaluating job candidates: "How to write a teaching statement" This article links to another one on do’s and don’ts for teaching philosophies, at: .

This site,, is a collection of resources for writing teaching statements, including references (books and websites), a guide to brainstorming, and links to samples. (Some of these resources are called out separately in greater detail further down in this blog entry.)

Practical Guides:

This page at OSU defines the purposes of teaching statements and offers general advice for formatting: Scroll down for links to sample statements.

Bill Rozaitis, who is affiliated with UMN’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and teaches pedagogy in the GRAD 8101 and GRAD 8102 courses, provides practical, step-by-step advice for starting from scratch. Click on the various components of his program from his teaching portfolio site at (The main site also offers tips about collecting other materials for a teaching portfolio.)

Although this eight-page guide is from the American Chemical Society, its approach and methods are applicable to many other disciplines. The guide contains ideas for thinking about your teaching as well as some suggestions for organizing the statement in different ways, and how to think about teaching a step-by-step guide to drafting the contents of the statement. See "How to Write a Teaching Philosophy for Academic Employment" at .

This OSU page offers rhetorical strategies (using metaphors, classroom examples, etc.) to develop the teaching philosophy. Scroll down for an excellent list of print resources:


For inspiration and reflection: the following site contains musings on about good teaching written by about 80 professors from Berkeley, from all disciplines. They are listed alphabetically (scroll down to read Michael Watts’ statement.)

There are lots of samples from different disciplines at this U of Michigan site. They read like assignments from a PFF-type class, but are instructive because they are so different and because they address pedagogical issues in a discipline-specific context:

Here is a sample from Gardner Rogers at UIUC, who teaches rhetoric:

This statement is a longish document that incorporates a section on teaching philosophy (scroll down to read it). Although it’s for computer science, I find his specific examples about methods he uses in the classroom are pretty compelling.

Finally, a personal favorite, even though it's for teaching foreign language:

October 1, 2006

writing cover letters

This entry lists some resources for writing cover letters for academic jobs. They are not geography-specific.

The Online Writing Lab at Perdue University has several useful pages, including this explanation of the parts of an academic cover letter, plus an annotated sample letter: Another sample letter (for sociology) can be found here at the Chronicles of Higher Education website: . This sample is from the book The Academic Job Search Handbook, which you may find useful.

Claremont Graduate University has an excellent page of tips on how to tailor your letter to the type of institution:

This page at Berkeley is a little too "how to demonstrate that someone as great as you would want to teach at a crummy school like East Nowhere State College" but is still worth a read, especially about length of letters (keep 'em concise!) and organizing the components of the letter: This writer disagrees with Berkeley's advice not to spend the time tailoring letters to each specific institution.

More advice about how to tailor letters to an institution is at and at An index of Chronicle articles about presenting yourself on paper is at .

According to another Chronicle article, if you are applying to a community college, your cover letter is the most important part of your portfolio. Read the article at

For laughs, check out this cover-letter-generator called the “Amazing Cover Letter Creator:?

Last, the second course in the Preparing Future Faculty series (GRAD 8102) requires (among other things) preparation and peer review of a cover letter responding to a specific job ad. Having someone from a different discipline read your letter can be frustrating (they push you to change it to match THEIR discipline) but also useful in clarifying your thoughts and words.

job listings - industry

This entry is just a placeholder for information to come.

September 24, 2006

job listings - academic

If you are a UMN geography grad student on the job market, you should consider joining the departmental job listserve. You’ll get frequent (hoo boy!) emails with job postings, and while these always also appear in the listings below, sometimes you’ll see them sooner in the UMN listserve, because they come through professorial email channels before they are actually advertised. Visit to subscribe.

Online job boards are of two types: those maintained by discipline-specific professional societies (or people in them); and broad listings of academic jobs maintained by organizations or companies involved in higher education. Most if not all are searchable in various ways – type of job, location, etc.

Professional Societies:

The Association of American Geographers, AAG, maintains an online job list that is the same as the one that appears in the print newsletter (except that it is updated more frequently, about once a week). Sorry, "Jobs in Geography" (JIG) is available for AAG members only. Click on; then click the Jobs/Careers tab and select “Jobs in Geography." These are organized by AAG region, and new listings are starred, which makes it easy to see what is new.

The Canadian Association of Geographers’ list serve (CAGLIST) contains (among other things) a job list that is maintained by the Geography Department at the University of Victoria. You can subscribe to the list to get email notifications.

The American Anthropological Association’s main job page is at: There is a link to search the database. Search criteria are optional, but jobs are listed by date of posting, so it’s easy to see what is new. There is also a link to “Tips for Job Seekers,? which is a page of instructions on how to use AAA’s database. This tips page also has links for setting up automatic email notifications and posting your resume.

For those interested in urban studies or urban planning jobs, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning maintains a job list at These are listed in reverse chronological order by date of posting (most recent postings first). We see listings here that we don’t see on other lists, so if you are an urban geographer, this page is worth checking out. For urban affairs more generally, check out the listings of the Urban Affairs Association at

Non-discipline Specific Job Listings:

The “big board? is at Chronicles of Higher Education, There are thousands of postings here, so you really have to filter your search. The search-by-location function is a disappointment: first by state, and then by institution rather than discipline. Searching by discipline is much better, and it’s worth a browse to see what related disciplines you might consider searching. The “create a search agent? function generates emails with new postings based on criteria you choose.

A commercial site is This site indexes a lot of administrative jobs, so searching by “faculty? and then by discipline is probably the most efficient method (geography is under “science? in the disciplines list).

H-Net is the Humanities and Social Sciences Online community, hosted by Michigan State. The job board is at Choose “Browse for Jobs? on the left, and then choose a field category to browse. This list is extremely well cross-indexed; in each category you’ll find “major? listings, then related listings.

As always, if you find errors here, please let us know in the comments section.

How to use this blog

Unlike many blogs, which are essentially on-line diaries (and hence chronological), this blog provides job-search information by topic. Ignore the dates: they are meaningless. Entries will be updated when we have new information to add to the topic.

A world of gratitude to the people who collected resources and shared them. And thanks to the UMN library system for hosting this blog. (Shane, you rock!)

Please feel free to comment if there are links that don't work or information that is incorrect or outdated, or if you have information you would like to add. We'll update entries periodically using information from the comments.


This site is a collaborative project of some geography grad students at the University of Minnesota. Our aim is to provide annotated links to information about job-hunting for academic and industry jobs for geography graduate students.

If you would like to add information, please comment, and we will add your information in an appropriate entry and category.

Thanks for visiting!