Originally published 01/28/2013
In December, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded the American Historical Association and the Modern Language Association grants for broadening the career horizons of humanities PhDs. At its 2013 annual meeting in New Orleans, the AHA hosted the project’s initial conversations. Dozens of directors of graduate studies, university administrators, and contingent faculty members met with AHA past president Anthony Grafton, senior project advisor Robert Weisbuch, and project director Julia Brookins. They discussed the implications of what we already know—and do not know—about the careers of history doctorates who are not postsecondary teachers.Administrators from a range of universities focused on disciplinary definitions of “placement.” They described how placement statistics currently encourage history departments to discount or ignore PhD alumni embarking on careers outside the professoriate, however illustrious their paths might be. They shared examples of alternative approaches in disciplines like chemistry and engineering. Participants suggested that the AHA could lead the redefinition of a successful job placement for newly minted PhDs. They also discussed ways that they and their colleagues in administration could help to make placement incentives reflect more fully what historians value about their training and abilities....