Philosophy and the Labor Market in Romania

Article excerpt

Abstract: One of the problems the institutional crisis of philosophy is facing in Romania is the difficulty of philosophy graduates to find a suitable place on the complex labor market. The article attempts to elucidate whether philosophy graduates subsequently teach what they study during their university education and to find solutions for a better integration on the labor market of these graduates. An important part of the article is dedicated to analyzing the institutional offer vis-à-vis the challenges that philosophy graduates face once they are attempting to find a job on the labor market. From our analysis we conclude that there is no direct connection between the diversity of jobs among philosophy graduates and the courses that they took during their university studies.

Key Words: institutional crisis, philosophy, the labor market, curriculum, academic training, Romania

Is the institutional crisis of philosophy the crisis of the inappropriateness of the curriculum to the labor market?

There are more and more scholarly voices claiming that the worldwide university system post-1980 is understandable less in the terms of a knowledge-based initiative and more in terms of a market-based, entrepreneurial-driven institution.1 However, if concepts such as "student-oriented university," "revenue programs," or "university rebranding" are now part of the regular vocabulary of higher education, they do not cover the whole picture. What such an approach is missing is the important relation that the university system formerly had to the prospects of educating informed citizens from a democracy. In Sharon Rider's words:

"The university of our day is concerned first and foremost with the production of things: degrees, citations, innovations. The classical university was originally conceived as a place where one formed, or produced, a certain kind of person: someone capable of sound judgment in, for instance, political issues."2

This is more than true when speaking about the departments from a university that are regularly considered more inclined towards a knowledge-based approach and, consequently, less market-oriented: the humanities. Although in this text we approach the issue of the labor market and the ways in which Romanian philosophy departments can better assist their students by preparing them to meet the labor market's needs, we do not entirely accept the vision that higher education tout court and philosophical education in particular can be evaluated on the solely basis of the requirements of financial pursuits. However, even if we agree with Rider that university education should not be directed only towards securing jobs for its future graduates, and has to play an important role of educating capable, critical, and informed citizens, we are also aware that those citizens' chances in finding a career should be promoted by, and not jeopardized by, an educational strategy. Therefore our aim is to find and articulate solutions that balance the knowledge-based aspirations that are intrinsic to a university philosophy program with the skills and competences that the labor market cherishes.

A quick glance over what is happening in the Romanian academic system regarding philosophical education seems to highlight the existence of a bias between university education and undergraduate education. This is best reflected in the inability of university philosophy programs to adapt to the requirements of the labor market. The programs for academic training seem to get further from the requirements with which philosophy graduates have to cope once they have to work in undergraduate education. They often must teach disciplines that have nothing to do with what they have learned during their academic training or others for which their training is shallow due to the insufficient number of courses needed to obtain the complex skills supposed by the disciplines brought forward. Thus, in the present situation, when the discipline of philosophy is reduced in undergraduate education, Petru Bejan notices that we are in the paradoxical situation where philosophy graduates are faced with the necessity of teaching a series of disciplines invented in the new curriculum, for which they are not prepared during their academic training, with the result that in the end the very idea of philosophy is totally obscured. …