Moving to a Harvard Fellowship and a Second Tenure-Track Job
A philosophy alum wins a coveted faculty fellowship to further his work on the philosophy of race and Latin American philosophy.
Right after receiving his Ph.D., Eric Bayruns García (Ph.D. ’19, Philosophy) joined California State University, San Bernardino, as an assistant professor. He’s about to spend the next year as faculty fellow in residence at Harvard University's Safra Center for Ethics, and then will move on to a tenure-track position at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.
Bayruns García, who focuses on the philosophy of race, epistemology, and Latin American philosophy, recently spoke to the Graduate Center about his research and the advice he’d give to current Ph.D. students:
The Graduate Center: What first drew you to study the philosophy of race?
Bayruns García: My work in the philosophy of race tends to concern how race affects what people believe and whether these beliefs reflect reality. For example, in a recent article in Episteme, I explain how the racially unjust structure of U.S. society makes news organizations such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post unreliably report about racial injustice in the U.S. This research focus intersects with my other areas of specialization, namely Latin American philosophy and epistemology.
I was drawn to philosophy of race because it is an area that considers what is race, how race affects individuals’ life chances, and how race structures the world. As a Dominican or Latinx person, race played a major role in my life. In Dominican families and Dominican society writ large, whether someone has light skin or dark skin will determine how one is treated not only by society’s members but also by one’s family.
GC: You are one of several of Professor Linda Martín Alcoff’s recent students who are about to start first or second tenure-track positions. What did you find most beneficial about working with her, and about your time at the GC in general?
Bayruns García: I consider myself very lucky to have studied philosophy of race at the Graduate Center because my committee was super supportive and helpful. Linda Martín Alcoff, Miranda Fricker, and Charles Mills were on my dissertation committee. Each of them not only gave my work lots of attention, but they also introduced me to lots of people and organizations in my areas of specialization that contributed to my development not only as a philosopher of race, but also as an epistemologist and as a Latin American philosopher.
The Graduate Center’s consortium with Columbia, Rutgers, NYU, etc., was also very helpful in developing my research program in philosophy of race because through it I became part of a graduate student community in New York that was working on cutting-edge issues in the philosophy of race.
Linda Martín Alcoff was an excellent adviser. We met regularly to discuss my dissertation. She provided excellent feedback on my work. She helped me think through how to approach the job market. And she helped me build my confidence as a scholar and thinker, which I think served me well while I was on the job market.
GC: What advice do you have for current Ph.D. students who hope to follow a similar path? Is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
Bayruns García: I received advice from Herman Bennett (History), which I knew was good advice at the time, but I only now realize that I didn’t heed it well enough. This advice is to focus on publishing. Herman was the director the MAGNET fellowship program [now the Provost’s Enhancement Fellowship]. I was one of the MAGNET fellows. During my years interacting with him, he would consistently implore us to focus on publishing because by his lights publishing in peer-reviewed journals is what would get us a job. Now that I have served on a few faculty search committees, I now realize how right he was. Even though I managed to publish right when I went on the market the first time, if I could do things all over, I would have made sure to have several manuscripts under review before I went on the job market for the first time.
A second piece of advice is that going to conferences and connecting with folks who work in your area of specialization can make a huge difference to whether one is successful on the job market. I now have a sense of how much of a difference this made in terms of getting opportunities to write invited pieces and the like. And writing such pieces of course contributed to my success on the job market.
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