Monday, January 14, 2019


Career Diversity in the Humanities: An Obermann Humanities for the Public Good Working Symposium

March 8 from 9–5 at the Iowa City Public Library

Across the country, leaders of PhD programs in the humanities face a conundrum. How can a department honor the subjects, methods, and practices of their disciplines while also preparing graduates for diverse careers?

To inspire our thinking, we have invited directors of some of the most imaginative programs across the country for an Obermann Working Symposium as part of the Andrew W. Mellon–funded Humanities for the Public Good initiative. The daylong program will be held Friday, March 8 at the Iowa City Public Library. Everyone is welcome.

What would an introductory course for an interdisciplinary humanities PhD look like? What can we learn from alumni in varied careers? How are departments preparing students to create digital and publicly engaged scholarship? To work collaboratively? How can we weave experiential learning into graduate studies? How can we best support humanities graduate students from underrepresented groups? What alternatives to the proto-monograph dissertation might serve students seeking careers in administration, curriculum development, government, non-profits, and publishing?

Speakers will share program descriptions, research, and topics for discussion in advance. You’ll find those materials along with biographies and a detailed schedule on our website soon. That way, we can dig right into their objectives, challenges, emerging discoveries, and, in some cases, radical provocations in each session.

Drop by the symposium at any time during the day or REGISTER IN ADVANCE if you can join us for an agenda lunch.

We are still confirming our final list of guests, but we are delighted that this stellar group has already agreed to join us.

Beth Boehm, former Vice Provost for Graduate Affairs and now Executive Vice President and Provost at the University of Louisville, was one of the early leaders in developing thoughtful mentoring and professional development programs that served humanities graduate students.

Until recently, Stacy Hartman was the director of the Mellon-funded Connected Academics: Preparing Doctoral Students of Language and Literature for a Variety of Careers initiative of the Modern Language Association. She has just been named Director of the Mellon-funded PublicsLab at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York (a site that includes a treasure trove of resources. We also welcome representatives from two universities that are partners in Connected Academics. Kathryn Temple is Associate Professor of English and Director of ReinventPHD—Connected Academics at Georgetown University. Kelly Anne Brown is Director of the Humanities@Work program affiliated with Connected Academics, which serves the University of California system. She is also the Associate Director of the University of California Humanities Research Institute house at UC-Irvine. This website also includes great resources.

The Mellon Foundation is actively encouraging publicly engaged graduate education. That’s the focus of two programs represented at the symposium. Molly McCarthy, Associate Director of the Humanities Institute at the University of California Davis and director of the Mellon-funded Public Scholars Program will join us. Ryan McBride, Administrative Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Public Service, will share his work as Director of the Mellon Graduate Program in Community-Engaged Scholarship at Tulane University.

The National Endowment for the Humanities Next Generation Ph.D. grant recipients (which include the University of Iowa) will be well-represented by Edward Balleisin, Professor of History and Vice Provost of Interdisciplinary Studies, and Maria LaMonaca Wisdom, Director of Graduate Student Advising and Engagement for the Humanities, who together run the Versatile Humanists program at Duke University. Vivian May, Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Director of the Humanities Center and Glenn Wright, Director of Graduate School Programs, are leading a new NEH Next Generation Ph.D. project at Syracuse University. And from just up the road at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, English Professor Jason Puskar will discuss their Transforming the Culture of Post-Doctoral Humanities Careers Next Generation grant.

David Nugent, Professor of Anthropology and director of the Master’s Development Practice Program at Emory University is a leader in a new communities of practice initiative, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation: Global Skills: New Rubrics, New Structures.

Finally, Maureen McCarthy, who leads a Mellon-funded project to document new practices, PhD Career Pathways, and is Director of Best Practices and Advancement, will share findings she has been collecting for the Council of Graduate Schools. Her report on the first years of the NEH Next Generation projects is already having a significant impact on graduate programs across the country. You can download the report, Promising Practices in Humanities PhD Professional Development: Lessons Learned from the 2016-2017 Next Generation Humanities PhD Consortium from the CGS website.  

As you can see, this is a date you want to get in your calendars now!