The historical profession, like many academic disciplines, finds itself at a crossroads in training its future practitioners. The intellectual revolutions of the 21st century and transformations in higher education have changed how historians practice their craft as well as career opportunities available to them. How should graduate history education adapt to these developments? Some argue the answer is training for non-academic as well as academic careers. But is job-market adaptation by itself sufficient? What about the intellectual and technological dimensions to history's transformation in the 21st century? How do these influence career preparation for historians?
Crossroads: The Future of Graduate History Education, a two-day conference, aims to bring together graduate students, faculty, and leaders in the historical profession to explore these issues. Hosted by Drew University’s Caspersen School of Graduate Study and the History & Culture program the conference will be held March 11-12, 2016 on the University’s campus in Madison, NJ. Conveniently located 30 miles from Manhattan, Crossroads will attract a diverse range of opinions and expertise and will include keynote speakers, roundtables, and panel presentations.
Current historical professionals and graduate students are invited to submit 250-word proposals for either individual 20-minute papers or complete panels by November 15, 2015 to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit drew.edu/crossroads. The topic listing below highlights some of the areas we aim to explore but is by no means exhaustive.
Historical discourse in the 21st century:
- What is history’s place in the public sphere? How has the historian's influence over the public and policymakers changed in the 21st century? How must we adapt how we train public intellectuals?
- How must we change the way undergraduate students are trained for graduate study? Is traditional historical teaching outmoded?
Training and expectations:
- Is interdisciplinarity helping to make graduate students attractive to prospective employers? How can we work across intellectual and departmental boundaries to integrate interdisciplinarity into the historical profession?
- How do we maintain a balance between fostering innovative programs and honoring traditional degree requirements? How can we think strategically about the relationship between training students in traditional elements such as historiography and preparing them in new and alternative methods including the digital humanities?
- What are the changing expectations of graduate history degree candidates? How are the expectations different between MA and PhD students?
Administrative and faculty challenges and initiatives:
- What are the specific strategies for placing students into non-academic careers? How do these strategies address the fact that some of the anticipated career fields have their own professional preparation programs? Is non-academic career preparation really that innovative given that historians have traditionally served in various public and private positions?
- How do we need to change assessment of graduate student intellectual progress?
- In what ways have changes in federal and state policy affected graduate history programs, in terms of curricular expectations and funding opportunities?
- How are graduate students creating communities within their programs, campuses, and the broader history world? What is the importance of graduate student organizations in maintaining these communities?
- How must faculty adapt in order to engage with 21st century students outside of the classroom and beyond coursework? Has technology changed how students and faculty interact?
- How can historians navigate the Digital Age through social media, online communities, digitized resources, and emerging technologies? What digital skills should students gain before entering the workforce?
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