Category Archives: Project Ideas

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Project Directors’ Meeting

On January 30, the Project Directors from the various institutions participating in the NEH Next Generation Humanities PhD met to discuss the progress of their projects. In morning and afternoon working groups, each institution’s current obstacles and action plans were discussed among the project directors.

We want to share the Graduate Center’s takeaways from these discussions, as they will serve as a key point of discussion for our February Project Steering Committee Meeting.

Obstacle

  • Keeping faculty engaged from satellite colleges. These faculty number about 1400 and tend to skew younger. Graduate Center faculty number about 140.
  • Strategic planning: too many exams and course requirements; exigencies of funding impact curriculum and requirements

Action Plan

  • Research career options
  • Make career information available to faculty to include in introductory courses
  • Group event in May: What constitutes humanities today?
    • Create buy-in from different programs
    • Exercise: focus on milestones (e.g., comprehensive exams) and consider broad knowledge, basic knowledge, professional development, ethics, goals, and outcomes across disciplines
  • Consider expanding non-curricular activities such as nonprofits engaging students in projects (e.g., a seminar structured around a specific project)
  • Public humanities research lab
  • Explore implications of student internships (i.e., Can the university afford to release someone who would otherwise be teaching?)
  • Explore project-based activities for students
  • Pilot a public engagement
  • Consider admissions criteria and the possibility of selecting for openness to this innovation

Planning Themes

As “The New PhD: A Renaissance of Public Education” gets underway, we thought it would be beneficial to highlight some components of our three planning themes: (1) curriculum, (2) data, and (3) partnerships. By centering our project on these three themes, we hope to align our aims with those of the Next Generation Humanities Ph.D.

(1) Curriculum

This planning theme intersects with the following Next Generation Humanities Ph.D. themes:
  • Ways to integrate multiple career outcomes from the very beginning of students’ experience in graduate school
  • Ideas for developing new courses and curricula
  • Altered formats or requirements for the Ph.D. dissertation (so that a student could receive a doctorate without producing a research monograph)
Topics and actions we will discuss under this planning theme include:
  • How to include more professionally-oriented skills development opportunities in the humanities doctoral curriculum
  • Implementing professional portfolios and alternatives to the monographic dissertation
  • Building a strong first-year professional development program for all humanities doctoral students
  • Discussing a wider integration of the existing Digital Praxis course (or elements thereof) into a wider compliment of doctoral humanities programs
  • Building consensus and support among faculty members for any proposed changes

(2) Data

This planning theme intersects with the following Next Generation Humanities Ph.D. themes:
  • Commitment to collecting and publicly disseminating data about retention rates and students’ post-doctoral career paths
  • Development of an evaluation plan for future activities and implementation
Topics and actions we will discuss under this planning theme include:
  • How can we better tell the stories of our doctoral students and alumni, both immediately upon graduation and throughout their careers?
  • Possibility of tracking career outcomes of those who leave doctoral programs
  • Developing useful visualizations of this data set
  • Developing metrics to evaluate any proposed changes in curriculum or professional development workshops and programming

(3) Partnerships

This planning theme intersects with the following Next Generation Humanities Ph.D. themes:
  • Experiments in providing financial support for graduate students for activities other than teaching
  • Identification of humanities Ph.D. alumni in various fields to advise or mentor graduate students
  • Initiation of partnerships with non-academic institutions
Topics and actions we will discuss under this planning theme include:
  • Developing and launching of an alumni mentoring database for humanities students
  • Fostering cross-disciplinary conversations with alumni working in a range of fields
  • Developing best practices for connecting with external organizations interested in hiring humanities Ph.D.s
  • Discussing ways to integrate internship experiences into the doctoral curriculum and funding packages