The University of Chicago has received a $350,000 Next Generation for Humanities PhD Implementation Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to prepare doctoral students in the Division of the Humanities, Divinity School, and the Department of History for diverse career trajectories.
“There have been an inadequate number of jobs for a very long time,” says Deborah Nelson, Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature and Project Director for the grant. “In the humanities, we have an extraordinary number of extremely talented and passionate students who need a better, clearer path to careers they will find meaningful and satisfying.”
To tackle this problem, UChicagoGRAD will implement a robust suite of programming called PATHS (Professional Advancement and Training for Humanities Scholars). PATHS will include:
● Skill-building resources such as seminars, workshops, and informational interviews
● Connecting students with employers and alumni for insight into diverse career paths
● Experiential learning opportunities such as internships and fellowships
These programs are guided by the notion that the same skills that promote success as an academic humanist—cogent and incisive writing, compelling presentation of complex arguments, mobilization of evidence, deep critical thinking, and others—will promote success in any professional field.
PATHS will focus on three main areas. “We want student preparation, faculty engagement, and employer education,” says Brooke Noonan, Executive Director at UChicagoGRAD. The public focus will be on the skill-building programs and networking events for students. However, PATHS also aims to promote a culture where faculty members are willing to advocate for the additional training students might need in order to navigate diverse career options. The implementation grant includes support from senior scholars representing a diversity of disciplines. Letters of support were crucial from distinguished UChicago faculty such as Haun Saussy, David Wellbery, Gabriel Richardson Lear, Christine Mehring, and Kenneth Pomeranz. Lastly, in order to provide students with optimal outcomes, PATHS will educate employers to recognize humanistic doctoral students as an untapped resource and to recruit them for top careers in academia, industry, nonprofits, and government. This three-part approach is necessary, says Noonan, “because we know that just to prepare students is not enough.”
“We have a great many successful alumni working outside of the academy,” says Nelson. “We want alumni to come back and talk to students about what they are doing, what their path looked like. Most of the programming is already in place—this grant is about how we engage the entire UChicago community around these resources.”
The success of current UChicagoGRAD programs has made UChicago a leader and pioneer in preparing and encouraging students to explore diverse career options. PATHS strengthens that commitment and creates a model of career exploration for other institutions of higher learning.
Check the UChicagoGRAD website for PATHS updates closer to the program launch this fall.