Monday, April 22, 2013

April 2013 issue of Perspectives on History: The Tuning Project at 12 months

The April 2013 issue of Perspectives on History (the newsmagazine of the American Historical Association) is available online (some articles are currently open to members only, but the ones linked below are open access). Much of the issue focuses on the AHA's "Tuning" project, a "nationwide, faculty-led project to articulate the disciplinary core of historical study and to define what a student should understand and be able to do at the completion of a history degree program."

Here's an excerpt from Executive Director James Grossman's column:
Most readers of Perspectives on History have probably by now encountered conversations about whether history and other humanities majors are “useful.” Generally we might infer that this question refers to the student, and specifically to the student’s employment potential. But when state governors propose that a humanities major pay higher tuition, they are pointing to the larger frame. They want the public subsidies to go towards the education of “useful” residents: young men and women trained in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and business-related disciplines and prepared to sally forth into a career of technological innovation and business acumen.

In this issue, several historians wrestle with—among other things—whether we ought to be engaging this discourse, and if so, how. The AHA has initiated projects at the undergraduate and graduate level oriented towards helping our students articulate the value of their degree in terms that we sometimes find uncomfortable. At the graduate level, we are exploring what sorts of jobs our PhD students can pursue beyond the professoriate. Public history work is familiar, comfortable. But we are also thinking more broadly, about work that might not be explicitly historical—whether in government, nonprofits/NGOs, higher education administration, or the private sector. This project, “The Malleable PhD,” will form the focus of a future set of articles in Perspectives, as our colleagues continue to debate whether such employment will always be idiosyncratic rather than susceptible to any sort of planning process, and how we think about such issues as the relationship between investment of fellowship resources and possible employment outcomes.
Read on here.

Also of interest: In the "Viewpoints" column, Nicholas Evan Sarantakes (whom we know best for his blog In the Service of Clio) offers "Some Proposals to Help Solve the Job Crisis."