What does alt ac mean for the academy?


The selection of readings for today’s class present an interesting and important point of view when considering the state of employment in the academy, and subsequently, what skills the academy must impart to graduate school students in order to adequately prepare them adequately for the job market they will actually enter.

I think Bethany Noviskie rightly explains, the situation with tenure track positions in the university disappearing rapidly can not be ignored. With the disappearance of tenure track positions, graduate students today face a drastically different picture of employment opportunities than decade of their predecessors. Noviskie’s case illustrates the immense value that a varied and diverse skill set and the ability to work in a highly collaborative environment carry in this new economic climate.  However, these ideas stand somewhat in contradiction to the traditional idea of skills perfected throughout the masters and PhD process. Traditionally, those pursuing graduate work in the humanities focus on developing one particular area of expertise and often works independently to complete a thesis. However, if, as Noviskie and the other authors argue, it is a broad range of skills and an ability to work with others that makes graduate students good candidates for the jobs actually available to them, then shouldn’t that be what the masters and PhD programs are teaching students?  

I think as we have seen in this course already, the Digital Humanities are blazing new ground by trying to build an educational experience that incorporates these new ideas. However, the rest of the academy needs to take notes and catch up. When the New School told me to conduct a cost-benefit analyses to determine whether incurring mountains of debt in the name of an MA, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t believe the skills the program would have imparted to me would enable me to be successful in the current economic climate. Unless the rest of the academy follows the lead of the Digital Humanities, they risk falling prey to this same threat.

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