Report - Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences

Report - Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences

egin their training today. Now more than ever the nation needs expertise in cultures,

languages, and area studies to compete in a global economy and to participate in an

international community. Public-private partnerships could help increase humanities

and social science graduate fellowships modeled on the nsf Graduate Research

Fellowship Program by providing multiyear support for talented doctoral students in

critical fields. The United States should make a concerted effort to maintain its position

as a world leader by supporting training for the next generation of scholars in

every discipline.

Support Scholars for Employment beyond Academia

This advanced training is essential to the renewal of the professoriate, which has been

the principal focus of graduate study in humanistic fields. But doctoral-level training

can also develop skills of enormous potential value to government agencies, nonprofit

organizations, museums and other cultural institutions, libraries and archives, and

diverse segments of the public sector. 4 As we ask for broader public support, universities

should clarify and strengthen the pathways that lead from graduate study to a

range of careers. As historian Anthony Grafton and Jim Grossman, executive director

of the American Historical Association, wrote in their influential essay “No More Plan

B,” the academic community must make the case that it offers graduate students and

the wider public an “education we can believe in, not just as reproductions of ourselves,

but also as contributors to public culture and even the private sector.” Model programs

like the Public Fellows Program, a collaboration between the American Council of

Learned Societies and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that places recent Ph.D.s

in staff positions at participating institutions, as well as the “alt-ac” initiatives (alternative

careers, especially in information sciences, within academia) of the new Praxis

Network, 5 offer useful examples of how to expand career pathways. But more must

be done to publicize existing routes, create new routes, and support scholars in their

transition to nonacademic employment. 6

Encourage All Disciplines to Address “Grand Challenges”

The public valuation of the humanities will be strengthened by every step that takes

this knowledge out of academic self-enclosure and connects it to the world. As scholars

in these fields seek bigger and more varied audiences, so, too, should they seek a new

range of intellectual partners. Researchers in the natural sciences have long argued that

science alone cannot solve the most urgent challenges of our time. The ong>Commissionong>

therefore joins the National Academies’ National Research Council and the National

Science Foundation in recommending that foundations, universities, laboratories,

research centers, and government agencies bring humanists and social scientists

The Heart of the Matter 43

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