NEH Grant Helps Transform Graduate Education at UK

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By Gail Hairston

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has launched a major initiative to transform the culture of graduate education and to implement changes that will broaden the career preparation of a doctoral student beyond a teaching career. The University of Kentucky and 27 other colleges and universities received a total of $1.65 million in grants to plan the transformation.

UK’s program, Careers Beyond the Professoriate, will provide resources and support to humanities and social science graduate students who are interested in exploring diverse career paths. Careers Beyond the Professoriate is supported by the College of Arts and Sciences and a NEH Next Generation Humanities PhD Grant.

As a recipient of a $25,000 planning grant from NEH, UK will also be a member of the new Council of Graduate Schools/NEH Next Generation Humanities PhD Consortium.

Led by project director Sarah Lyon, UK’s planning grant will enable:

1) integration of multiple career outcomes early in a students’ experience in graduate school;

2) revisions to curriculum and degree requirements in order to better prepare students for a diverse array of future occupations;

3) maximization of faculty buy-in for a transformed doctorate degree and methods for supporting students beyond teaching-focused funding;

4) initiation of partnerships with non-academic institutions, and

5) development of an evaluation plan for future activities and implementation.

Higher education is currently experiencing profound transformations and an accompanying decline in the availability of full-time academic positions. Today, non-academic and alt-academic careers are no longer a viable option for many graduate students. Careers Beyond the Professoriate will help graduate students prepare for the harsh realities of the 21st century job market.

“The academic-focused future we’re accustomed to training graduate students for is disappearing,” NEH Chairman William D. Adams said. “If graduate programs wish to make a case for the continuation of graduate education in the humanities, they’re going to have to think about the professional futures of their students in entirely different ways.” 

Next Generation PhD is the first time that NEH, a longtime public funder of the humanities, is tackling the issue of how doctorate students who immerse themselves deeply in graduate humanities research and writing can look to apply their skills and experience beyond teaching and professor positions to a broader range of careers.

NEH is an independent federal agency that funds humanities projects in fields such as art history, literature, philosophy and archaeology. Created in 1965, NEH awards grants three times a year to top-rated proposals as examined by panels of independent reviewers.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uk4ky #seeblue

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