Just started reading the new Yale report on the future of its humanities grad programs. Its recommendations might freak people out but from my POV having run a small grad program look like a really helpful response to a bad situation both in R1 universities and overall. 1/
It names a problem that (even!) Yale shares with humanities graduate ed everywhere: "Fewer than half of the humanities doctoral students who matriculate
at Yale obtain tenure-track jobs." It implies that students can be neglected, stultified, or even driven out of programs. 2/
In response it recommends that Yale "evaluate doctoral programs in relation to three major elements: the innovation and inclusion in each doctoral program, the amount of late attrition in a program, and the employment outcomes of a program’s students." 3/
On the problem of the dictatorial or unresponsive Doktorvater/mutter: "To reimagine advising as the collective effort of several faculty members from 1+ departments in which a student’s home unit shares the responsibility of supporting each student’s success and well-being" 4/
Recommends university better support grad student health by "allocating the requisite resources to expand mental health and counseling services and provide students with vision and dental insurance as part of their financial aid package." image.message.yale.edu/lib/fe31157075… 5/
CRUCIAL: closing the candy store for programs that pump miserable students out into a zero-jobs environment: "links the number of students a program may admit in a given year to that department’s success in mentoring students to the completion of their degrees..." 6/
"The more successful a department is in mentoring its students to full-time, fulfilling jobs, the more gSaS might reward that department with the authorization to admit graduate students." Also addresses the dangers of late attrition... 7/
and "the more attrition—especially late attrition— among graduate students in the department...the more its future admissions might be limited...[P]rogram size...should be tied to fluctuating metrics rather than to historical entitlements" not just bc you had 80 grads in 1990 8/
Two experimental proposals would let students and faculty branch out: in 1, "faculty would design new combined-degree-granting programs, and students already admitted to existing Ph.D. programs might join these programs during the first year in their home program" 9/
"The second relies on interdisciplinary, non-departmental faculty clusters that would propose new programs with limited time horizons to which gSaS would admit small cohorts"--this would depend heavily on how well faculty and students work to define the pop-up program. 10/
I saw one up close at NYU's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World and it seemed as if students were highly engaged and their focus and selling points well-defined. If well supported it would beat being trapped in a narrow program! 11/
Anyhow I've just started reading and jumping around in it but so far it is a forward-looking response; while less super-wealthy institutions can have different problems, it also responds well to some of the things I noticed here: sethlsanders.wordpress.com/2020/04/13/doe… END
PS: Forgot to put link in at the beginning so I put it in the middle and here image.message.yale.edu/lib/fe31157075…

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More from @SethLSanders

2 Sep 20
Tradition or Memory: What is the Bible made of? Reflecting back on the past century or so of debate I think the stakes here could be higher than they appear.
The biggest arguments in e.g. Pentateuchal studies are over what the building blocks of the Torah were, and how and why they were put together. Similarly in the past couple of decades people have started talking about these building blocks as "collective memories."
In an earlier phase these building blocks were called "traditions" and the early all-but-invisible process of composition, "history of traditions." But in both cases it was treated mainly as referential content, abstracted away from human agency, a quick but shaky solution.
Read 14 tweets
12 Apr 20
In 2020 what are the main issues of a small religious studies grad program? Here are things I thought about while running one. Really only one: given the data, you're doing it against the odds, so every significant decision needs to help set you apart and justify your existence.
This is because in humanities and social sciences the most prestigious programs are typically overwhelmingly more successful than others and tend to hire from each other.
slate.com/human-interest… 1/10
Here are the relevant studies on narrowness of hiring in history, comp sci, and business:
advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/1/e1…
And same phenom in political science
gppreview.com/2012/12/03/sup… 1b/10
Read 16 tweets
1 May 19
Happy May Day--the ancient Babylonian flood myth describes the first labor dispute in the history of the cosmos, as the lower-status gods slaving to feed the higher-status ones burn their tools and march on the high god's palace livius.org/sources/conten…
Meanwhile a scroll from the artisans' village of Deir el-Medina--likely written by a labor leader and not found in official records or royal victory inscriptions--records the first documented strike in ancient Egypt ancient.eu/article/1089/t…
The craftspeople who made the tombs that supposedly allowed the rich to live forever were not getting paid. So the workers went on strike, blocking access to the Valley of the Kings so no priests or family could bring food for the dead, starving the rulers in the afterlife...
Read 9 tweets

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