2018 WORKING GROUP
In New Orleans, our Working Group’s overarching question was–how can we reverse engineer a publicly engaged humanities graduate program for the 21st century?
PART 1 RAPID FIRE INTRODUCTIONS
PART 2 SMALL GROUP CURRICULUM DESIGN
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 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?
Step 1 Groups used a stack of Post-Its to identity the parts needed to build the whole program (30 minutes).
Everyone took a moment to jot down the most exciting and valuable ideas, trying NOT to start with requirements or credits or anything the least bit bureaucratic. Our questions were–
- What is succeeding from your own program’s experiments?
- What do you wish humanities graduate programs included in addition to courses with a content focus like “Victorian literature” or “feminist theory”?
- What have graduate students told you they want?
- What would make you want to go back to grad school?
Step 2 Each group laid claim to a wall for Post Its and then negotiated with their group members about how to group the Post Its.
- Do you want to group ideas by kind (class, workshop, experiential opportunity, assignment)?
- Do you want to group ideas as parts of a curriculum?
- Do you want to group ideas as “values” that would form the backbone for a program?
- What other categories do you see?
- What’s missing?
Step 3 In the final round, each group studied their Post Its and added ideas to fill in gaps.
PART 3 COLLECTIVE CREATIVITY–
ENVISIONING GRADUATE HUMANITIES FUTURES TOGETHER
In the final 30 minutes, each small group pitched their best ideas to the full group. These are the results.
PART 4 AFTERTHOUGHTS
Send us any reflections you have after the session–whether questions, additional ideas, future sessions you’re planning at other conferences where some of might meet, or resources we can add to our programs and resource pages.
Graduate student training
Admissions—Need to understand and promote the idea that public engagement jobs are a viable option for humanities PHDs
Teach students the connection between scholarship and applied work
First year large collaborative project that connects many students with many organizations
3-4 core courses
20% of credits devoted to publicly engaged work
Require all graduate students take public methods seminar
Training/coursework re public engagement should begin in the first year
Early archival research training
Courses on how to engage various publics
Proposal writing skills
Grant writing assignments built into courses
Public facing element to dissertation required
Internship model baked in
People from outside academy on dissertation committee
Make coursework more nimble—not just writing papers
Training in Digital Humanities
Engagement between humanities and technology, stem, business, and other departments
Training in how to use career planning resources like Imagine Ph.D.
Humanities Ph.D.s at career center
Public talk or Op-Ed required
Reflection at end of projects: mode of evaluation
Teach students to write for multiple audiences
Internships on and off campus—yearlong and summer—rather than solely RA or TA funding
Build in international components
Admissions open to non-academic experiences: recruit students with broader interests
Ongoing opportunities for and connections with public humanities
Alternatives to convention “course block” model
Transition from lots of “stand alone” courses to some shared courses attached to all humanities programs
Opportunities to develop publications that link community partners to academic work
Critical reasoning with content
Identification of social problems as a first step in designing courses and assignments
Alternatives to traditional proto-monograph dissertation
Hiring models introduced early that include strong voices of people outside the academy
Co-teaching with community stakeholders
Strong coordination with libraries and buy-in by libraries—for resources
Spaces for collaboration and collaborative work
Note: Timing—need to introduce student to career options and new skills by midway point of graduate studies
Translation of specialized knowledge and skills into terms larger public can recognize
Multi-media “writing” skills
Creation and management of research data and data basis
Digital humanities training
Exhibit design and curation
Range of skills needed in community settings—incentivize community partners to teach students and/or to mentor or coach them and take part in programs co-designed with campus
Training in funding models, budget construction, and financial constraints
Variety of program formats—workshops, maker events, design thinking, etc.
Pedagogy—for settings in and beyond typical classrooms
Social media training
Cultural competency for diverse communities—whether the diversity is based on language, ethnicity, economic status, urban/rural differences, religion, etc.
“Collaboration first” theory and practices of collaborative scholarship
Introduction to NGOs and other organizations
Much clearer values and statements about what qualities and abilities we seek in new faculty
Promotion and tenure requirements must take into account publicly-engaged work and clarify the differences among public scholarship, community engagement, and service (repeated across groups)
Service needs to be interrogated and nuanced
Advisor training is needed
Department involved in guidelines
Diverse mentors: co-mentors, alumni, etc., off-campus mentors
Aggressive efforts to recruit publically-engaged faculty members
Reviewer training—how to evaluate public projects and new formats
Idenfication of PHDs and MAs in the local community beyond the university who are working in key cultural organizations and ask for their advice and input
Ample funding explicitly for this type of training
The institution as a whole needs to be engaged
12 month funding (repeated refrain)
Graduate students as university employees
Funding for professional development (for faculty and students)
Establish a community Advisory Board
Develop relationships with state humanities councils
Ask community leaders to give talks in the department
Grow and protect community partnerships
Embed connections with state councils
Host informal collegial gatherings involving off campus and on campus reps
Create links with rural as well as urban partners
Not related to any of these categories, but there was a recommendation that the Scholarly Societies integrate their efforts related to public humanities.
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?