Friday, August 12, 2016

NEH Awards “Next Generation PhD” Grants to Business Historians

This week the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced its newest grant recipients, including 28 awards totaling nearly $1.7 million, for its "Next Generation PhD" planning and implementation grants, designed to help academia rethink "how PhD 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." Three of these grants have been awarded to members of the business history community and their universities:
Edward Balleisen, Duke University ("Doctoral Training for the Versatile Humanist")
Kenneth Lipartito, Florida International University ("Bridging the Gap: Linking History PhD Training to Nonacademic Employment")
John Majewski, UC Santa Barbara ("Training for Nonacademic Careers in a Research-University Setting")
A (gated) Chronicle of Higher Education article discussing the grants quotes both Ken Lipartito and Ed Balleisen. Lipartito "wants students to have the option of having someone from outside the university serve on their dissertation committee. This person would be from a sector that the student may work in and help the student think about techniques that might be useful in the field."
"Changing that culture is going to be the hardest part," Mr. Lipartito says. "If a lot of your faculty still think nonacademic careers are second choices, it’s going to be hard to erase the sense among students that they should be thinking mostly about academia as the endpoint." [He adds that] he hasn’t noticed significant change on the issue since he left graduate school 30 years ago. He’s hoping interventions by outside groups like NEH and Mellon [which has a similar funding program] can help foster change.
At Duke, Ed Balleisen
hopes to hire a staff member who would help connect students with internships and provide stipends for students taking such opportunities. As an example of the value of such an approach, he points to a student whose dissertation focuses on the prisoners’ rights movement in North Carolina. The student worked as an intern with a civil-rights group that focuses on prisoners’ rights. 
"We really don’t see an antagonism between preparing people to make a difference outside the university realm and being effective scholars and teachers within it," Balleisen said. (An announcement from Duke University about their plans is here.)
     In addition to these business historians, economic historian Kenneth Pomerantz at the University of Chicago is overseeing a program created by a previously awarded AHA-Mellon Career Diversity grant: "Starting next year, Chicago’s history department will offer a course in which students work in teams to create podcasts, a radio program, or other programming meant for a wider audience." Chicago, now also awarded an NEH "Next Generation" grant, will use it in part, "to create a series of programs for all first-year humanities Ph.D. students in which they create development plans and start thinking about multiple career paths from the start of their doctoral studies."
     The "Next Generation" initiative was also reported in the AHA blog.