Next Generation Humanities PhD at Syracuse

Re-imagining Doctoral Training in the Humanities

Most humanities graduate students end up working outside the academy. But most people in graduate training programs expect to work within the academic subject they’ve trained in, and graduate education usually only prepares scholars for academic careers.

This disparity is big and has lasted for decades. By and large, humanities graduates aren’t being trained for the careers they’ll end up working in. As a result, there’s a major disconnect between the humanities as practiced within academia, and the public sphere, where humanistic training and thinking could and should be in high demand.

In 2018 the Syracuse University Graduate School and Humanities Center were awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Next Generation Humanities PhD planning grant. Resulting from that initiative are several projects designed to 1) increase awareness of and training opportunities for careers outside the academy and 2) promote the role humanities training can play in the public sphere.

Current projects include:

Humanities Summer Internship Program

In June 2021 the Graduate School, in collaboration with the College of Arts and Sciences’ Engaged Humanities Network, launched the Humanities Summer Internship program, supporting four humanities Ph.D. students through paid internship opportunities at Syracuse University PressSyracuse University Art Museum, the Skä·noñh–Great Law of Peace Center, and La Casita Cultural Center. The internships gave the students the chance to apply their humanistic skills in work settings aligned with their disciplinary backgrounds, while exploring job sectors of interest to them. Several internships will be offered again in 2022; look for the call for applications in Spring 2022.

Humanities Graduate Mentoring Network

The Humanities Graduate Mentoring Program  provides the opportunity for current graduates in the humanities to contact Syracuse graduate alumni around the country, and Ph.D.-holders working in the Syracuse area, to learn about the varied career paths that can be pursued with a humanities Ph.D. Visit the page to learn more about the mentors and their careers since receiving their doctorates, and for advice on effective informational interviewing.

Next Generation Dissertation Project

The Syracuse University Graduate School is an advocate of Next Generation Dissertations, a new way to approach the dissertation process. A Next-Gen Dissertation, or NGD, is any doctoral project whose form goes beyond the traditional written monograph. It can be a website or other digital product, a graphic novel, a documentary, or even a music album.

Our NGD website lets you explore some of the possibilities with these kinds of projects, showcases notable examples from recent years, and gives you the guidance and advice you need to think about undertaking an NGD yourself.

Humanities Beyond the Academy Working Group

As part of the Central New York Humanities Corridor, the Graduate School collaborates with Cornell University and the University of Rochester to host a multi-institution working group that explores how we can improve humanities graduate training and careers while increasing public engagement by humanities scholars. The group organizes a series of workshops and discussions involving notable public humanists or champions of graduate education reform, as well as connecting those involved in non-academic career development to share resources and best practices. Recent speakers have included:

Humanities Beyond the Academy welcomes humanities students as well as faculty and administrators working in the public humanities or supporting graduate students pursuing careers outside of tenure-track academia.

Leaving the Grove: A Quit Lit Reader 

As part of its commitment to increasing awareness about the realities of academic careers, and the movement of graduate-educated scholars into non-academic career paths, the Graduate School Press is publishing Leaving the Grove: A Quit Lit Reader, edited by Christopher Flanagan and Glenn Wright. This volume is the first book-length work devoted to the phenomenon of “quit lit” — farewells to academia by scholars at all levels (from graduate student through to tenured professor) who resigned their posts or stopped looking for one. Leaving the Grove explores the vagaries of the academic job market, the work-life balance pressures of postdoctoral and tenure-track careers, and the changing landscape of the role of the professoriate. It also brings forward the stories of numerous Ph.D. holders and the exciting new careers they forged for themselves after leaving the academy.