NYC and Dynamic Change: A Reflection by Sarah Hartman

Written by Sarah Hartman

As a Fordham University undergraduate, I found it an enriching and necessary experience to take the Master Class on New York City and Dynamic Change with Dr. Sheinkopf. Because New York is Fordham’s campus, it is important for me as a student to get to know the city and its current events. New York is ever changing and Dr. Sheinkopf emphasized this in his class. Dr. Sheinkopf was a perfect guide as he is a New York native and knows the ins and outs of New York City politics. With Dr. Sheinkopf we explored the five boroughs and their evolution. A thought-provoking topic of discussion was demographic inversion, a phenomenon affecting many US cities, including New York. Demographic inversion is the process of upper class individuals and families moving into the city while those who are less affluent replace them in the suburbs. This phenomenon is directly related to gentrification, the displacement of low income and minority communities, a process that we as a Fordham community should be cognizant of. The demand for inner city living is growing in popularity but with this growth, one must look at the counter effect. As rent increases, as well as gas prices, the demand for low-income housing increases.

I was particularly interested in our discussion of low-income housing and the issues pertaining to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). NYCHA apartments are in high demand but are in terrible shape. People live in squalor and endure high crime rates to be able to live in the city. Some of the apartments are infested with mold and have lead paint issues that have resulted in lead poisonings. To talk more about this issue, Dr. Sheinkopf brought in Gregory Floyd, the president of the Local 237 Teamsters. One of the issues that Mr. Floyd discussed was the security of NYCHA buildings. Police units assigned to the apartments have been limited and while crime is down in New York City, crime remains steady in NYCHA apartments. This was expressed with frustration as efforts to improve public housing has left the union out of the loop. Mr. Floyd told the class of how the Union has ideas and wants to help the housing authority, but they go ignored. It was a great opportunity to get to hear from someone who knows exactly what is going on and what could happen in the future. This class was an eye-opening experience, one that I could only have gotten from Dr. Sheinkopf.

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NYC and Dynamic Change: A Master Class by Dr. Hank Scheinkopf

Written by Michael Weldon

A political insider for decades, Dr. Hank Sheinkopf’s master class, New York City and Dynamic Change, focused on a central question:  What is power?  Simply defined, power is the ability for A to get B to do something; or alternatively, to do nothing, to force a non-decision.  Power does what power wants and does not ask permission.

Dr. Scheinkopf provided fascinating insight to the historical factors, which brought such dramatic change to the city over the course of the 20th century.  From systemic corruption at the highest levels of government down through the ranks of the police force, to organized crime and labor unions, to entanglements between bankers and developers, the story of New York City is of epic proportion.  A historian of New York City, Dr. Scheinkopf extemporaneously delved into the city’s main players of the previous century, from Frank Costello and the political machine of Tammany Hall, to the Irish dominated police force, the Italian mafia, as well as the powerful Catholic Church.

Dr. Scheinkopf explained as the GI’s returned home from the war in ’44-’45 to a housing shortage, new homes were built with guaranteed mortgages and guaranteed profit.  New York’s “master builder”, public official Robert Moses, favored projects like expressways out to the suburbs, over public transit, and with that, great change followed.  The automobile would transform the city as white families fled for a suburban life.  Jobs changed, manufacturing changed, and the city was left with empty spaces, fewer jobs, and a decline of social welfare.  The population that would fill the vacuum were blacks migrating from the south, and Puerto Ricans from the Caribbean.  Racially biased policies against the city’s new residents resulted in the deterioration of once flourishing city neighborhoods as the process of ‘ghettoization’ ushered in the era of ‘war on crime’ and mass incarceration.  Through myriad examples of politics at work, Dr. Sheinkopf drove home his point that power has no political affiliation, yet all societal conditions are political.

Originally planned for three-days, the two-day master class included guest speakers Gregory Floyd, President of the Local 237 Teamsters Union, and Justice George Grasso of the Bronx County Court.  Mr. Floyd spoke of a variety of examples to weaken the trade and labor unions through the concentration of private and corporate capital.  Judge Grasso shared his interesting life’s trajectory from a NYC ‘beat’ cop who moved up the ranks to become a Bronx County Court Justice.

This class was an intriguing whirlwind of New York City history and the political forces, which shaped it.  Supplemented by compelling reading selections and two eminent guest speakers, Dr. Scheinkopf’s lectures made plain that the course of history which New York City took was not guided by the invisible hand, but rather determined by fierce, if not ruthless, competition for its resources.  The take away is simple: examine issues from every angle, and participate in the struggle for equitable change.

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NYC and Dynamic Change: A Reflection by Patrick Slutter

Written by Patrick Slutter, IPED

One of the best aspects of being a graduate student at Fordham is living with and interacting with New York City. The size and scale of the city may seem daunting to some, which lends to the reputation, that New York is anonymous and indifferent. However, with context of the city’s history and the people who shape it today and in the past. Dr. Sheinkopf NYC and Dynamic Change course perfectly blended the history and academic facets of studying the city with the in person interactions with people who know and affect the city today. Dr. Sheinkopf encyclopedic knowledge of the city, through the policies and the people, as well as the academic papers, which examine them, is an invaluable resource for any New Yorker trying to get their arms around the complexity of New York City today. Dr. Sheinkopf undoubtedly has the knowledge and energy to carry through a two and half hour lecture without protest from any students, but instead, the class was enriched through round table discussions where students were given equal footing as the expert special guests.

The persisting issues that the city faces, among them housing, crime and transportation, are best first approached as phenomenons to understand rather than problems to solve. Throughout the class, not a week would go by when the course material came alive in the news. Behind each headline, there is a hundred years of history, for instance the persisting crises of the City Housing Authority do not exist in a bubble; they are the direct results of decisions made by elected and unelected officials of the course of decades. The L train debacle, the future of Riker’s Island, the opioid crisis, and Amazon’s move to Long Island City are all the subjects of ardent conversations between New Yorkers. Dr. Sheinkopf’s classes changed the way that I think and talk about these issues and others.

Another valuable aspect of the Dynamic Change class was that it drew students from a variety of backgrounds. Too often in graduate level study students get cloistered away in their own discipline with very little cross pollination from one field to the next. All of the students in the course took a chance by signing up for a class not specifically in any of our departments, that made all the difference.  

Dr. Sheinkopf course was able to appeal to me as a student in the International Political Economy and Development (IPED), but it also appealed to computer science students and teachers. We each brought our own experiences and perspectives to the class which made it truly interdisciplinary. Truly inspired learning has a “going down the rabbit hole” nature to it. The NYC and Dynamic Change readings and discussions lead me to pursue more books on the subject which only incited me to go further. This spring semester I am taking Urban Economics which gives me the opportunity to explore the issues and history of New York City further.

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Honoring Earth Day

Last month, in honor of Earth Day, two GSAS graduate students, Elizabeth Carlen and Elle Barnes gave up purchasing food in plastic.

Both of us are scientists, and because of the nature of our research we were unable to completely give up plastics. Sample tubes, petri dishes, pipette tips, and many other everyday lab supplies are plastic and essential for our research. However, because we’re often in remote areas to conduct research we see first hand the far-reaching effects of single-use plastic.

Plastic debris on Henderson Island showing the far-reaching effects of plastic debris in our environment. Photo © J. Lavers via Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

We consider ourselves relatively environmentally aware.  We carry reusable water bottles, recycle everything we can, carpool, carry reusable tote bags, are conscious of food/water waste, limit our meat consumption, eat/shop local, and so on. Elle was the self-proclaimed ‘garbage police’ as a child, checking trash cans for recyclables and lecturing people about what can actually be thrown away.

But we decided to embark on this endeavor for two reasons: (a) to help make ourselves aware of all the single-use plastics we consume and (b) to see where we could cut out or reduce single-use plastic from our lives.

Here are some things we found.

  1. It’s really difficult to cut out plastic! Our first grocery shopping trip was spent wandering around the grocery store trying to meal plan and realizing we were going to have to get creative. Chips and crackers were completely out (before you tell us that some bags look like aluminum or paper: well, they are actually made from metal or paper molded with low density plastic and thus, cannot be recycled), as were cheese, meats, berries (fresh & frozen) and most dairy (gone are the days of paper cartons without plastic). Fruits and vegetables were placed directly in our carts (instead of plastic bags) and washed at home. If we did want cheese or meat it had to be bought at the deli counter so we could ask the butcher/monger to only wrap the item in paper. Snacks on campus were even more difficult since plastic tended to be the only option. This meant we had to remember to bring snacks with us or leave campus and scout the local delis (which also contained mostly plastic-based foods).

Chip aisle at Whole Foods. Photo © E. Carlen

 

Snack options in the vending machine options at Walsh Library are all in plastic. Photo © E. Carlen

  1. BYOE — Bring Your Own Everything. Both of us were already in the habit of carrying reusable water bottles, coffee mugs, and Elle had been carrying reusable silverware. Elizabeth dug out her camping silverware, as well as metal straws. We also found that we could bring paper lunch bags to buy bulk items at the grocery store; this allowed us to purchase pasta, rice, and dried fruit that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to buy.
  2. There are a lot of hidden plastics. Foods in cardboard containers or glass that you think have no plastic have hidden plastic. Bartenders & waitstaff often put straws in your drinks without asking if you need them. This meant that on multiple occasions Elizabeth had to chase down waitstaff after ordering and ask them to not add a straw. It also meant that we bought food on multiple occasions not realizing there was plastic in or on it. It happens and helped us realize how prevalent plastic is, even when trying to avoid it.

 

Hidden plastic seal on San Pellegrino water. Photo © E. Carlen

  1. Think about if you actually need to use that plastic. At times we had to get creative. Early in the month we both forgot our silverware and ended up eating salad with a single pair of wooden chopsticks passed between us. At school social events sandwiches were placed directly on napkins (no wasting a plastic plate) and paper cups were used instead of plastic bowls.

 

Fruit eaten out of a paper cup with a coffee-stirrer ‘utensil’. Photo © E. Carlen 

  1. Be conscious of the alternatives. So if we aren’t going to use plastic, what are some alternatives? We prefer paper or metal items. In general though, any single-use item is wasteful–no matter the material. For instance, single-use chopsticks are extremely damaging to the environment as large areas of forest are cleared throughout the world to provide wood for the chopstick industry, having cascading impacts on the ecosystem. An alternative: reusable bamboo or metal chopsticks. Similar to the chip bags mentioned before, many paper coffee cups are actually not recyclable because they are made by molding plastic to the inside. This helps prevent the paper from breaking down and keeps your coffee warmer for longer. The cup may be made of recycled materials, but once it becomes a coffee cup, it becomes waste. In an effort to close the loop on coffee cups, many coffee shops have begun switching to more environmentally friendly cups that use a different method to adhere the plastic making them recyclable. However, a better option would be a cup that uses a plant-based liner, making it both recyclable and plastic-free. The best alternative: bring your own reusable coffee cup to the coffee shop–even Fordham’s Rose Hill on-campus Starbucks acknowledges BYOC (Bring Your Own Cup)–and many coffee shops will even give you a discount for it.

Overall this experience was incredibly enlightening and helped us learn more ways to cut out plastic from our everyday lives. While we were both very happy to be able to buy some of our favorite foods again on May 1st, we’ll continue many of the practices throughout the year. Our endeavor is especially timely due to National Geographic’s June 2018 issue entitled “Plastic or Planet?”, which begins their multi-year effort to raise awareness of the global plastic trash crisis and become a more sustainable magazine.

Written by Elle Barnes and Elizabeth Carlen

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Why a Professional Support Network is Important

Sitting on the RamVan recently, I was surrounded by Gabelli undergraduates (I could tell because one of them was dressed in a three-piece suit). All of them were discussing internships– how they got them, where they’re interviewing, how they’re prepping– and the benefits and drawbacks of various placements.

And it got me thinking… I don’t remember that kind of practical sharing and support as an graduate student here. That’s not to say that those of us in the humanities or social sciences don’t support one another, but I think we want to do so as scholars. We talk about our research interests or intellectual theories and discuss mentors and academic experiences. I think it is less natural for us to automatically jump to talk about jobs and careers.

A lot of that worry stems from our feeling that we’re impostors– academic frauds who are not as worthy or as knowledgeable as our colleagues (check out this great overview of impostor syndrome from CalTech). If we are anxious and less-than in the classroom, how much farther behind are we on the job market? What can we offer?

But the best part of the conversation going on around me on the van yesterday wasn’t the interviewing tips (honestly they were nothing special) but how relieved the students sounded after explaining their anxieties. They bounced ideas off of each other and were open about how much work they had and the pressure they were all feeling to succeed.

We all have to work hard. And while I think that in grad school, working hard is normalized and working “for” the degree is expected, in my experience most students also want to be the naturally quick and intelligent person. We want to skim, not have to read the book; understand the problem sets in class the first time; write a dissertation chapter quickly– we want to have the answers, not admit that we’re worried we may have the wrong ones.

But asking the question, admitting gaps in our knowledge and confidence, is just as important, especially if you can do so within a trusted peer group. As summer approaches and things calm down, many people us the break to reconnect with research partners or cohort members– if you can, also use it as a time to discuss anxieties or talk through problems. You might be surprised that your peers are struggling with the same issues.

  • Dewis Shallcross, Director of Student Development, GSAS ‘14

 

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TOMORROW! Queer Encoding: Encoding Diverse Identities

When: Friday, April 28 at 10:30 AM – 5.00 PM
Location: NYU Center for the Humanities, 20 Cooper Square, Fifth Floor
More info & RSVP

Come and hear leading practitioners in the field talk about how we might work creatively with textual mark-up languages to be more inclusive, and see strategies in action in the Project Hack.

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Keynote speakers:

Julia Flanders (Digital Scholarship Group, Northeastern University), ‘Encoding Identity’

Marcus Bingenheimer, (Department of Religion, Temple University), ‘Using TEI to Encode the History of Chinese Buddhism’

Project Hack:
Katherine Briant and Stephen Powell (Fordham University, MA Center for Medieval Studies), Queerness of Space Time and Text in the Independent Crusaders Mapping Project

Sohini Chattopadhyay and Benjamin Hiebert (Columbia University), Queer Encoding Challenges in The Making and Knowing Project (http://www.makingandknowing.org/)

Cherrie Kwok and Nicole Cote (New York University), Queer Encoding and Identity Formation in the Nineteenth-Century Manuscript Diary

Moderators: Marion Thain (New York University) and Peter Logan (Temple University)

Co-Sponsors: NYU Digital Humanities; Digital Scholarship Center, Temple University; Fordham Digital Humanities Group, and Office of Research.

More info & RSVP

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Bio Opportunity (FREE)- Attend The Whole Scientist Course!

Biology/Science students! Attend The Whole Scientist course to build skills for your career

Events: April 20, 2017 (NYC) and May 15-19, 2017 (Maine)

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Am I prepared for the next step in my scientific career? What skills do I need to work in academia? Industry? Other careers? What if I don’t want to do research? How can I find a job?

The Jackson Laboratory and partners are pleased to host The Whole Scientist workshop in New York on April 20, and in Bar Harbor, Maine, on May 15-19, 2017.

The Whole Scientist will assist you in answering the questions above and helps scientists like you prepare for the next step. With advice from leading experts, The Whole Scientist will instill skills and confidence in:

  • People and project management
  • Individual Develop Plan preparation and execution
  • Mentorship and team-building
  • Networking and negotiating
  • Effective communication to a variety of audiences
  • Career exploration and the job market

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Get ready for your future at one of our two upcoming events!

– Join us at Hunter College in New York City for our one-day workshop on April 20, 2017. Find out more and register. Registration is FREE and includes breakfast and lunch!

AND/OR

– Join us at The Jackson Laboratory in beautiful Bar Harbor, Maine, for our week-long course May 15-19, 2017. Find out more and register. Comprehensive scholarship packages are available to attend. Register today!

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Channeling Our Creative Powers

Malkah Bressler is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Fordham University and a participant in the “Living Humanities” PhD in the 21st Century” Project. She participated in the MLA’s 2015-2016 inaugural Connected Academics Proseminar. The following post is a reflection on the planning theme of the fifth meeting of the project, “Mentor the Whole Person: Career-Wise Counsel, Promising Partnerships. For a fuller overview of the meeting, see the companion post by Samantha Sabalis.

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When I was writing my BA thesis, I told my advisor that I was considering a PhD in English Literature. Without missing a beat, Lisa said “well, you certainly have the creativity.” It struck me as odd that my advisor valued creativity first before intellectual engagement and writing acumen. Creativity appeared to belong to the realm of creative writing and poetry and not to the analysis of books and poems. As I pursued my graduate education, however, both my MA and doctoral studies have revealed that Lisa is right; it is our uniqueness of thought and our ability to connect disparate texts and theories that attracts us to the academic life. As I write my dissertation, it is those moments when I “realize” something, when I make a connection, that fill me with a rush of joyful exuberance.

That “spark” of realization is, I think, the major impetus that propels us to dedicated six to ten years of our lives to the study of the humanities. The creativity we enjoy even extends to our teaching practice, crafting an argument, and creating elegant prose. Creativity is at the heart of everything we do except for one, very important factor of the graduate education: the inescapable job search. Why does our profession, at the moment when a student is deemed ready for the degree, contract and direct that student to the most expected and uncreative outcome?

Although it has never been the case that all people with PhDs assume a professorship, the narrative that doctoral candidates apply for and enter in to tenure track jobs has been ingrained into the collective psyche of the academy as well as that of non-academics. Anne Krook rightly observes that the more time a student has spent in graduate school, the more fixed this outcome appears. Isn’t it strange? The more a student hones her ability to think creatively, the more she cleaves to a specific and expected path.

These days, we have realized that not every graduate student will or wants to become a professor, and we are developing methods to help graduate students find meaningful professions. Krook and many others have offered useful tasks that students, faculties, departments, and graduate schools can do to refocus their vision of post-graduate life. Suggestions include inviting those who have left academia to talk about their jobs, educating graduate students on the current state of the academic job market, offering graduate students the opportunity to conduct projects and internships that will build new skills, and of course, changing the mindset of students and faculty who are not wholly in favor of these new measures. As my colleague Samantha Sabalis mentions in her companion blog piece, several graduate departments at Fordham have already implemented programs and have created resources to help graduate students. At both the micro and the macro levels, there is a collective effort.

But I think we are missing the linchpin to this entire issue: although all of these fixes help, the only way to ensure lasting success is for us to constantly apply our creativity. As Katina Rogers argues “I think that the discipline of the humanities should be disentangled—or, unbound—from the rigid academic pathway leading to the single goal of the tenure track job.” The “unboundedness” that Rogers identifies is an invitation for us to take our creative powers and use them to help graduate students discover various professions and the manifold ways in which a student can find meaningful employment.

Allow me to offer an example.

Not all graduate students want to teach; many value the doctoral education for the training in writing and researching. Obviously, these students need something different than exposure to non-academic teaching opportunities, but students are easily discouraged by not knowing how to begin. I think that this moment is an invitation to think creatively. A student might start by side-stepping the issue. For example, the student might ask herself “what topics do I enjoy researching?” When I asked myself this question, I realized that I enjoy writing about the connections between the environment and culture, and then I conducted a Google search for like-minded publications and organizations.

As I push further with this notion of creativity, I am reminded that Krook suggests that students write companion pieces to their dissertation chapters that are tailored for a non-academic audience. The goal is for students to demonstrate their ability to write in both academic and non-academic prose. But how do graduate students ensure that potential employers become aware of their abilities? Most graduate students know of the utility in maintaining a professional website that features teaching practices and dissertation updates. Why not add a section on non-academic writing?

Finding the advertisements for non-academic jobs seems painfully difficult, but the angst can be ameliorated when the student becomes imaginative. Of course networking with alumni promises the most success in terms of gaining a job, but before that, a student needs to know what to look for in a potential alumni interviewee. Recently, a friend mentioned interest in becoming an editor but was wary of publishing houses. As we considered what other organizations require editors, we both recalled a recent article in The Atlantic that was written by an employee of the Brookings Institution. It suddenly dawned upon us that organizations like the Brookings Institution, the World Bank, and the IMF employ in-house editors to review manuscripts that are later published in a variety of print and on-line publications.

Taking this creative thinking one step further, it dawned upon us how similar finding non-academic employment is to our research methodology. We begin our research by identifying a seminal scholarly text, and then we build our bibliographical arsenal by finding and reading texts that cite the initial work. We must approach the non-academic job search in a similar fashion. For example, once a student identifies a prospective employer, the student should review the biographies of employees, paying close attention to their past employment. From one website, the student will glean perhaps three or four others institutions to consider as well as an idea of whom to contact for an informational interview. We academics excel at these sorts of sleuthing exercises. It is how we find forgotten texts, it is how we find that one last article we need to read before we can finish writing, and it is how we find a dissertation or article topic that has yet to be explored.

We must unbind our creativity and let it thrive as we help students find their next career path. In doing so, we will ensure that the job search remains fluid and open, and we will avoid calcification. Embarking upon the search for non-academic professions is very much like that moment when we ask ourselves “what shall I research and write about next?” and feel a rush of excitement as we anticipate learning something new and writing something not yet said. If we keep our creativity close to mind, we will find the freedom to discover so many more opportunities and even, create new ones for our peers and students.

  • Malkah Bressler, Ph.D. Candidate in English, Fordham University

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Mentor the Whole Person Blog Post: Every Ph.D. Needs an Exit Strategy

A soon-to-be English Ph.D. comes across a recent graduate studying in the library stacks. One is finishing her dissertation and excited to be nearing the end of the process. The other? Well, the euphoria from the defense is dissipating. When you’re adjuncting at the same university for less money than you made as a graduate student and you’re diligently trying for job after job (in academia, in publishing, in writing…) with little to show for it, you can start to wonder: what can I do with a Ph.D.?

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This little graduate school morality play may seem a little bleak, but the thing is, you can actually do a lot with a Ph.D. In “Humanities Unbound,” a survey of humanities Ph.D. graduates working in “alternative academic” positions, Katina Rogers found that respondents had gone on to find careers in the fields of academic administration, government, and journalism, or worked at institutions like cultural heritage organizations, libraries, or non-profits. And while we’ve all heard horror stories about needing to take the Ph.D. off a resume to be more hirable, in fact many employers value a Ph.D. in a job candidate. Several employers interviewed as part of the Pathways Through Graduate School study by the Educational Testing Service and the Council of Graduate Schools saw candidates with graduate degrees as having not only advanced knowledge, but also the ability to lead, design projects, and problem-solve in innovative ways.

So why do so many Ph.D.s struggle to find stable work upon graduation? Some certainly take positions as adjuncts to persevere with the dream of a tenure-track academic job (a separate issue, recently devastatingly summed up by Kevin Birmingham), but many others simply don’t know what else to do. It’s possible to leave a Ph.D. with a polished dissertation, a teaching portfolio, and selection of well-crafted cover letters for academic jobs, but with no resume, no contacts outside academia, and no idea of what jobs you’re qualified for. It’s also difficult for many Ph.D.s to articulate their many skills for employers beyond the content of their dissertation and teaching. For example, few non-academic employers will value my deep knowledge of fifteenth-century religious education and how to revise comma splices, but they could certainly appreciate my grant-writing techniques, my proficiency as a researcher, and my ability to set goals and work independently to reach them.

What every Ph.D. student needs to create, preferably before the frantic last lap of the dissertation process, is an exit strategy. This plan goes beyond writing a strong resume (though that’s a great start). Students should be able to name a couple of career paths they’d like to pursue, and should have conducted research into the vocabulary and required skills for these fields. They should talk to Ph.D. alumni, explore internships, sit down with employees in these potential careers, write for audiences outside academia…the list goes on. Basically, every student should start thinking about what he or she wants do after graduation long before finishing the Ph.D., even if the main goal is an elusive tenure-track job.

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At the recent meeting of the “Living Humanities” Ph.D. project on “Mentor the Whole Person: Career-Wise Counsel, Promising Partnerships,” faculty members and administrators from different departments across the humanities shared their initiatives to help students prepare for careers after graduation. These insights highlighted several avenues for improving graduates’ confidence on entering a non-academic job market. One suggestion involved expanding the role of the placement officer to include non-academic careers. In the Philosophy department, a member of faculty now works on enhancing non-academic placement, while the placement officer focuses on academic appointments. In the English department, the placement officer is now assisted by a Job Placement Committee, who can draw on a wider range of teaching (and life) experience to assist students on the job market.

Several departments are focusing on expanding their students’ teaching skills. In Philosophy, there are plans to hold a summer camp for high schoolers, so Ph.D. students will have the opportunity to work in K-12 teaching. In English, the placement officer is working to prepare students for careers at community colleges, independent high schools and beyond. Discussions with English Ph.D. alumni in the Peace Corps and the Park Service have highlighted how their employers valued their teaching experience, so focusing on this aspect of the Ph.D. could also help students answer questions about the value of their Ph.D. on the non-academic market.

Another key factor is not only normalizing non-academic jobs, but also raising their prestige among faculty members. Of course departments should still promote their graduates’ achievements on the academic job market, but they should also highlight that a tenure-track academic job is not the norm; more students will find careers outside this category than within it. One goal in the Theology department is to teach faculty to see non-academic jobs as equally attractive, so that this perception could also trickle down to students and pervade departmental culture. Departments can easily contribute to the valuing of non-academic careers by promoting students’ achievements from outside the academy as well as within it. Why not send out a congratulatory email with the list of students who received competitive internships or post links to articles students have written for non-academic publications?
Another way to demonstrate a commitment to non-academic positions as well as academic ones is to Invite alumni in exciting careers back to the department to speak to current students about their jobs and how they got them. Students can then get ideas for what to look for, and will feel encouraged to take the initiative and search for opportunities on their own.

Alumni in particular are an excellent resource, offering tangible proof of the many careers a Ph.D. can lead to. As well as showing how to market a Ph.D. for a variety of careers, alumni can also provide that oh-so-elusive quantity for many Ph.D. students – professional contacts outside academia. Many departments currently don’t track their alumni working in careers outside academia, even as they meticulously list which graduates hold postdoctoral fellowships or academic positions. But Jason Pedicone, President of the Paideia Institute and a guest speaker at the last “Living Humanities” Ph.D. meeting, emphasizes the value of talking to alumni and showcasing their career paths. The Legion Project, a Paideia initiative that tracks students who pursued advanced degrees in Classics and publicizes their current careers, not only shows what can be done with an advanced education in Classics, but also helps create a community that Ph.D. students and graduates can tap into. Such projects can also be aspirational for students. For instance, the series of Compatible Careers seminars held by Fordham’s Medieval Studies program, at which former Medieval Studies MAs discuss their current careers, not only provides insight into the range of jobs available to graduates but also shows students that getting such jobs is possible, and that their skills from graduate school have value outside the academy.

So if you’re a graduate student, whether a starry-eyed first year or a world-weary dissertator, take some time to brainstorm what you’d like to do after graduation. Research how you could prepare yourself for this coveted career, be it with an internship, an informational interview, or a plan to publish in an online magazine. If you’re a faculty member, think about reaching out to former dissertation mentees – are they all in academia, or have some found fulfilling careers elsewhere? As the soon-to-be Ph.D. at the start of this piece, I’m trying to follow my own advice – as I prepare myself for my defense, I’m also thinking about what I’ll do next.

  • Samantha Sabalis, Graduate Assistant, NEH/GSAS Grant, The “Living Humanities” Ph.D. for the 21st Century 

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For more about the “Mentor the Whole Person” planning theme and suggestions for further reading, see its description on the website for “The ‘Living Humanities’ Ph.D. for the 21st Century.”

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Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows Opportunity

Humanities Ph.D.s about to graduate look at this great opportunity! Recent alums take notice too!

Deadline: March 22, 2017

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ACLS is pleased to announce the seventh annual Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows competition. In 2017, the program will place up to 22 recent humanities PhDs in two-year positions at top nonprofit and government agencies. Public Fellows will participate in the core work of these partner organizations while benefiting from professional mentoring and other career building opportunities. Each fellowship carries a stipend of $67,500 per year, as well as individual health insurance and $3,000 toward professional development activities. Applicants must possess US citizenship or permanent resident status and have a PhD in the humanities or humanistic social sciences conferred between September 1, 2013, and June 18, 2017, and will have defended and deposited their dissertations no later than April 6, 2017.

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Further information about the application process, eligibility criteria, and this year’s fellowship positions is available here. All applications must be submitted through ACLS’s online application system by 8 pm EDT on March 22, 2017. Questions about the program may be addressed to publicfellows@acls.org.

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