2018 Working Group in New Orleans
Action shot from our small group discussions.
Post Its from our groups
Working Group 2018 New Orleans
(same information posted on the Key Questions Page for 2018)
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.
Working Group 2016 Salt Lake City
During our Working Group meeting at the November 2016 Utah conference, our initial group members were joined by about 30 additional participants. After welcoming everyone, we broke into three groups. Each included faculty members, leaders of state humanities councils, and administrators of foundations that support the humanities. Beginning with the Case Studies we had posted on this site earlier, we asked the groups to address three questions. The questions were–
Participants shared attempts, failures, successes, and lessons learned. After a lively discussion in small groups about the varied career paths and preparation we can offer to PHD students in the humanities, we invited representatives of each group to share highlights of their conversations.
When the full group reassembled, several themes emerged.
One consensus was that creating collaborations that connected graduate students (and humanities department) with the larger world of the humanities would benefit both academic and public humanities. How can academic humanities departments collaborate more actively with state humanities councils and other public humanities organizations? How can we initiate regular cross-sectoral conversations? How can we help graduate students feel that they are part of a larger community of scholars while at the same time increasing their opportunities for networking both within and outside the academy? The general consensus was that if departments incorporated training in collaborative work-including setting up and carrying out project-based collaborations and working across disciplines and sectors–learning those skills and practices would benefit graduates whether they end up in academic positions or other careers.
Another focus-of more questions than consensus-was the need to reimagine the curriculum of graduate humanities programs. What would change if the orientation session or course at the very beginning of graduate school emphasized pathways to diverse careers, which might include taking courses outside humanities departments? What kinds of internal and external internships could be built into graduate programs? Rather than relying so heavily on teaching assistantships to fund graduate education, could we also offer administrative assistantships? For the most, graduate students have been left to their own devices to explore alternatives to academic careers, sometimes with the help of campus career centers. What will it take to engage faculty in these conversations? What forms might scholarship take other than traditional publications? Where would publicly engaged scholarship fit into graduate studies? What kinds of projects might teach extensive, creative research methods and the ability to develop a sustained argument as effectively as a conventional dissertation, and could we vary the format of the dissertation to capture such projects?
We closed the session by asking everyone to jot down their thoughts about one final question as a way to consider possible next steps apart and together-
We have lightly edited the responses to this final question and posted them here on the website. Our hope is to reconvene and welcome new working group members at the 2017 conference.
What if we encourage grad student development (and do so alongside faculty development)? What if we offer options beyond the scholarly monograph? Communications and grant training ? What if we have frank conversations like this more often?
What if all the humanities PhDs formed a network of friendships, partnerships, and donor relations that united scholars, administrators, and industry? (“Where are all the PhD’s?”)
What if university and non-university partners could design a highly specialized pilot PhD that would met the needs of both?
What if we could redefine the dissertation to facilitate and build public humanities skills for those NOT specifically seeking a tenure track job?
What if graduate educators were aligned deeply with the access, equity, and inclusion missions of most of our institutions, including the organizations with which they partner?
What if graduate programs found a way to balance content learning with openness to the multiplicity and ends for that knowledge?
What if graduate education provided opportunities for work outside the academy while a student is doing the degree and access to non-academic networks?
What if graduate education offered students multiple jobs as opportunities rather than alternatives when tenure track faculty positions don’t work out (from the beginning of their graduate study)?
What if we partnered our grad program with a variety of community organizations so students could learn by joining the work of the project as mutual learners and contributors?
What if graduate students were rewarded for making “esoteric” research seem relevant?
What if graduate education were more deeply embedded in the larger humanities ecosystem that is present at this conference?
What if more universities created formal PHD internships like the UGROW program at University of Miami?
What if we had far more conversations between agencies and academics. It is good for all of us to examine the potential of humanities discourse and action! Thanks for this session.
What if we created more connections? There is a broad network of participants visible, knowledge of powerful foundations, advocates, assets, recognition of possible limits of the “next gen PHD” framing. These ideas overlap with undergrad, grad teaching, faculty/grad and public collaborations.
What if the focus of the “next steps” and “next generation” throughout humanities education connected with that of other professions and disciplines with MA and PHD tracks?
What if employers were as much a part of the conversation about graduate training as academics?
What if all grad students had opportunities to be mentored through their programs by private, public, and NFP off-campus professionals, as well as by their academic advisors?
What if we had a network of graduate training programs, including sciences, working across disciplines concurrently and in communication with one another to address “grand challenges” like climate change, racism, economic inequality, the digital divide, etc.?
What if storytelling, project management, coding and research methods were taught across disciplines and institutions?
What if there were more credit-bearing internships, practice-based scholarships, and project-based learning opportunities in graduate programs?
What if dissertation research involved publishing data and collections as well as essays, articles, and books?
What if we could create a national network of PHDs who are already outside of academia to act as mentors alongside academic advisors?
What if all students were valued for whatever successful career they aspired to and were supported in that pursuit
What if a PHD program integrated career development preparation and mentioned academic and non-academic options at the beginning level. And what if it escaped the duality of the ac/non-ac.
What if we opened up public humanities opportunities to students with fewer obligations–especially for students of smaller colleges with fewer extra-curricular opportunities–and helped them work with and for humanities councils and organizations and familiarized them with public humanities work?
What if we started plans for graduate programs with the premise that art, film, history, languages, literatures, philosophy, comparative religions, and other humanities disciplines were not only valuable repositories of culture but also essential to addressing the grand challenges we face–war, poverty, hunger, racism, social inequities, global warming, environmental degradation, mass extinctions, and an increasingly fractious, contentious civic culture.