Move the Eastern APA to the first week of January

For decades, philosophers have been trekking to various east coast US cities on Dec.27 for the Eastern division meeting of the American Philosophical Association. Whether to give papers, interview candidates for positions at their home colleges, or interview for a job themselves, these scholars have had to give up time with family right after Christmas or  during Hanukkah when that falls later in Dec. The toll on those who frequently attend the Eastern and their families is huge. 

Successive CEOs of the APA have told me that the reason for this terrible timing is simply financial: hotels are cheaper on Dec.27-30. No doubt they are, because most sane people do not want to travel to an academic conference at that time. We believe that the extra cost of hotels during the first week of January would be worth the benefit to scholars and their families. And cheaper airfare during the first week of January But there are new reasons to consider this move. 

First, the terrible timing of the Eastern APA is hastening the decline of the venue as a central component in the job process for philosophers. While Skype interviews are bound to increase, the standard practice of APA interviews has helped reinforce the norm that offers should not be made to candidates until late February, giving them time to receive and consider competing offers. The breakdown of this norm threatens us all with a collective action problem that will make us all worse off in the long run. 

Second, in an increasingly global scholarly environment, the Eastern APA has become much more important to philosophers outside of North America. For them, the timing of the Eastern APA is even more problematic. Many of them would have to depart their homes on Dec.26, or even Christmas day, to reach the APA in time to be sufficiently ready for interviews, presentations, or invited lectures. Fairness to the rest of the world demands that we make the Eastern APA more accessible. Third, the horrible timing of the Eastern does not encourage publishers to keep coming during a time of increasing challenge for academic publishers. 

Whatever the past reasons for the practice have been, we the undersigned say that it is time to try the alternative. We know this could be problematic for the small minority of colleges that have short winter semesters in early January, but for the vast majority, it would be a significant improvement. Finally, I emphasize that the argument for this change is not religious; it is social. 

(SIgning this petition commits you to the central idea of the proposal, namely to move the Eastern APA to the first week of January. If you dissent from some of the arguments, or wish to add others, feel free to add your own comments. Your name is also vital: anonymous signatures will NOT be counted in the total).

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