History. What Is It Good For? Absolutely -- Something.

Paul Harvey

Especially for you undergrads. and grad. students who read this blog, some thoughts, links, and posts on the job market for historians, and the job possibilities for undergraduate majors in history (happily, the latter appears considerably more open-ended at present).

Tenured Radical asks and offers a number of observations and suggestions on the question, How Should Graduate Schools Respond to the Bad Job Market, a topic that also got a lot of attention at the AHA last week and spurred a classic supply-side versus demand-side discussion (i.e., is the declining academic job market due to decline in demand in relation to supply of PhDs, or is it because that supply-demand imbalance has to do with deliberate university policies, inspired by the corporatization of the university, which have created it? Might it have to do with an "intentional restructuring of demand by administrators?"). The comments are coming in furiously from Tenured Radical's posts, so make sure to follow them as well. A challenge to the conventional narrative comes from Marc Bousquet (author of How the University Works) here.

Then, John Fea (whose blog also covered the AHA extensively) has a fantastic series What Can You Do With A History Major, 17 parts and counting so far, and featuring lots of former history majors who are now in a wide variety of fields, doing just about everything imaginable. This is a series I hope to see awarded a "best series of posts" in some future blogging awards competition; in the meantime, when students ask you that question this semester, you can send them there; and undergraduates reading this blog, do not pass go, just click the link above for some good thoughts on the perennial question of the humanities undergraduate.


Seth Dowland at: January 14, 2010 at 7:43 PM said...

Thanks for posting about this subject, Paul. I've really enjoyed John's posts on what one might do with a history major (if you're reading, John, thanks!). I think it's essential for all of us engaged in the academic study of religious history to consider what we're training students to do--and to help them see the skills they're developing in our courses.

Regarding the problems of the academic job market, I found Timothy Burke's thoughts on the subject quite helpful. The dearth of academic jobs is obviously a live issue for me as someone seeking a tenure-track job, but as a teacher of undergrads, I don't run into the problem of how to train graduate students. And since I teach mostly freshmen, I also don't have many students asking me if they should go to grad school. I'm curious about other readers of this blog. What do you tell students who tell you they're interested in grad school?

John Fea at: January 14, 2010 at 7:58 PM said...

Thanks for the plug Paul (and Seth). Stay tuned, I have a few more posts in this series coming up--including one from a Hollywood producer and another from an NBC Sports researcher.

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