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The Future of Graduate Education and Training in the Humanities

White Paper on the Future of the PhD in the Humanities - product of the Future of Graduate Training in the Humanities Project, funded by a Knowledge Synthesis Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Canada

The project on The Future of Graduate Education in the Humanities brings together students, faculty, administrators, those who have transitioned out of the academy, and leaders in creativity and commerce to address questions about the futures, actual and potential, of graduates from MA and PhD programs in the humanities. For what are we training our students? What other goals can we envision in addition to a career in the academy? Do we have an obligation to produce career-ready graduates? If no, then what is the role of humanities graduate education, and what is the relationship of humanities research and education to the world beyond the university? If yes, how do we preserve and integrate the historical, literary, and theoretical core of humanities scholarship while addressing the needs of the modern labour market?

Preliminary Discussion Paper PDF

October 2013 Summit on the future of graduate education and training in the humanities: Summit Program PDF

This project is supported by a Knowledge Synthesis Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Transformations in Graduate Education: The Future of the PhD

2014 Annual Conference of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
28 March 2014 | McGill Faculty Club, 3450 McTavish Street | 2:15pm - 3:30pm

First-class humanities and social science research and teaching are needed in an increasingly globalized and complex world; and graduate training at the highest levels is required. But with non-completion rates as high as 50% and only about 20%-30% of graduates finding employment within the academy, humanities PhD programs in particular face an urgent problem. This session sets out to recast that problem as an opportunity. How might we transform the PhD into a program that leads toward a multiplicity of academic and non-academic career paths, that strengthens what the humanities and social sciences can bring to the world, and that prepares talented young people to contribute to the betterment of Canada and the world?

Members of the Roundtable

  • Kathryn Muller, Consultant in Philanthropy
  • Sidonie Smith, Mary Fair Croushore Professor of the Humanities; Director, Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan
  • Paul Yachnin, Tomlinson Professor of Shakespeare Studies; Director, Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas, McGill University
  • Leigh Yetter (Chair), Executive Director, Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas, McGill University

Agenda for the 2014 Annual Conference

Bob Barsky, Director, Bandy Center, Vanderbilt University

Nathalie Bondil, Directrice, Musée des beaux-arts, Montréal

Cameron Charlebois, Chair, IPLAI Advisory Board

Jay Clayton, Director, Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Social Policy, Vanderbilt University

Lesley Cormack, Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta

Rebecca Duclos, Dean of Graduate Studies, School of the Art Institute, Chicago

Manon Gauthier, former CEO, The Segal Centre for Performing Arts, Montreal

Geoffrey Galt Harpham, Director, National Humanities Center (USA)

Michael Jemtrud, Associate Professor, School of Architecture, McGill

Martin Kreiswirth, Associate Provost and Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, McGill

Becky Lentz, Assistant Professor, Department of Art History and Communication Studies, McGill

Bronwen Low, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, McGill

Christopher Manfredi, Dean, Faculty of Arts, McGill

Paulina Mickiewicz, PhD Candidate, Department of Art History and Communication Studies, McGill

Kate Muller, Executive Director, McCord Foundation

Jacob Rabas, PhD Candidate, Department of Political Science, McGill

Dorothee Schreiber, Administrator, Imternational Masters for Heath Leadership, Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill

Stefan Sinclair, Associate Professor, LLCU-Digital Humanities, McGill

Sidonie Smith, Director, Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan

Will Straw, Director, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

Paul Yachnin, Director, IPLAI, McGill

Leigh Yetter, Executive Director, IPLAI, McGill

The members of the SSHRC Knowledge Synthesis project on The Future of Graduate Training in the Humanities wrote these three-page position papers at the start of the work. The papers develop focused, valuable approaches to the questions about the value, shape, and future of humanities graduate education.