Key questions


2018 Questions

In New Orleans, our Working Group’s overarching question will be–how can we reverse engineer a humanities graduate program for the 21st century?

PART 1 SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS  Our 2018 overarching question will be–how can we reverse-engineer a humanities graduate program for the 21st century? Small groups will start with a scenario: “You have carte-blanche from your administration to start a new graduate program from the ground up. You are not beholden to current practices at your university (or, indeed, in your field). Your administrators want a genuinely innovative flagship program that will serve as a model for a new type of graduate education and raise the university’s profile as a risk-taking national leader. What would your program include?” Groups will have a stack of Post-Its and 30 minutes to identity the parts needed to build the whole program.

PART 2 LARGE GROUP DISCUSSION  In the second 30 minutes, representatives will report back to the full group and then we’ll produce our collective reverse-engineered program and share it out on this website.

2016 Questions

In Utah, the Working Group will share programs and projects in which students are making experimenting with ways that the concepts, methods, theories, and practices they are learning in their graduate studies can be valuable in a range of domains–in addition to teaching or academic research careers. We welcome suggestions for questions, model programs, and other resources that we can share on this site and with our students.

From Stacy Hartman, Connected Academics, MLA

  • How can we make graduate students more aware of the wider humanities ecosystem through collaborations with local cultural institutions, civic organizations, nonprofits, and businesses? What opportunities for graduate students (such as internships) might be created through these collaborations?
  • How can we change the conversation about success and placement (both nationally and institutionally) to reflect a broader idea of success? How might efforts to track all graduate alumni support our efforts to change this conversation?
  • What are the biggest (structural and psychological) impediments to preparing doctoral students for diverse careers?

From Leah Nahmias, Indiana Humanities

  • As an administrator at two different humanities councils, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we ensure graduate students enter the non-academic humanities community, either through internships and/or embedded work during graduate school, or in non-academic careers post-grad school, with the right set of skills and mindsets for getting good work done with communities. Increasingly, to me, two related mindsets that graduate students need to bring to their work with public partners are operating with a sense of humility and entering new settings as a learner—not assuming that doctoral training has necessarily prepared one for working as part of a team in a non-profit organization. This leads me to ask—what pre-training (professionalization?) do graduate students need to be successful in graduate and post-graduate internships (careers?) outside the academy?
  • I often hear academic institutions, faculty, and grad students give a lot of lip service to the idea of partnership yet I don’t see how graduate student placements are designed to equally benefit the host community organization as they do the student—I’ve seen this up close with a grad internship placement we’ve hosted at Indiana Humanities, and I know it’s a frequent problem for us “hosts.” This is a common concern in the world of service learning and internships for undergrads, yet I seldom see these concerns raised in the world of graduate education. I think there are some obvious check-points to make sure that host orgs get as much out of the partnership/placement as they put in, yet don’t always see these put in place (and my opinion is rarely asked…).  When we design programs that put graduate students in community settings, how do we ensure that the host organizations benefit equally from the partnership?
  • Something else that I see in a lot of graduate students: doctoral training produces many students who are insecure about the process of collaboration and, relatedly, about showing vulnerability when they don’t know something or how to do something. As someone outside the academy, I’m less interested in diagnosing the problem in doctoral education than I am in thinking about how to empower graduate students and post-grads to be honest about not knowing, admitting when they need help, and sharing enough vulnerability that trust and collaboration are possible. The question: How do we train or empower graduate students working in community settings to admit vulnerability and say when they need help so that collaborations and/or projects don’t grind to a halt or fail altogether?