Jim Grossman, the executive director of the American Historical Association, has a vision. In his recent piece at The Chronicle of Higher Education, he imagines what an orientation for new doctoral students might look like in 2022.
Here is a taste:
As academe moves (slowly but surely) to rethink doctoral training, I’ve been mulling the direction and implications of change.
Today, a new vocabulary has emerged in Ph.D. humanities education. Doctoral degrees are “malleable.” Their recipients are “versatile.” A discourse of “career diversity” will enable new cultures of “connected academics.”
Most graduate students today encounter that wider perspective of doctoral training as they near the finish line, yet they also inhabit an academic culture steeped in traditional norms of success and failure. Even graduate-program directors committed to a broad view of Ph.D. career options might include in their welcome messages the 40-year-old jeremiad about the narrowed academic job market — implying therein a standard of success. In a well-meaning attempt at transparency, they might include a reference to “placement rates” — underscoring the tenure track as the normative pathway even amid the rhetoric of “alternative” careers.
With resources from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation, new projects aimed at changing graduate-school training and culture are emerging — some initiated by scholarly societies like the American Historical Association (the organization I direct) and the Modern Language Association, and others led by humanities centers, graduate deans, and even individual departments.
With these expanded visions gaining traction, I am ready to indulge in fantasy: What might a graduate orientation for entering students in my discipline — history — look like in five years? Let’s pick up where we left off with our hypothetical director of graduate students in 2022 …
Read the entire piece here.