Transformations in graduate education: the future of the PhD

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Does anyone think the current PhD training in Canada is perfect?  If so, they are a quiet minority; re-imagining PhD training is one of the hottest topics in higher education policy. For example, the most popular post last year on University Affairs’ Margin Notes Blog, was “The PhD is in need of revision”.

Considering how to approach PhD training in the 21st century is important across all disciplines, but the humanities face a particularly urgent problem with non-completion rates as high as 50% and only about 20%-30% of graduates finding employment within the academy.

So it makes sense for the Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences to explore this issue at our annual conference, a forum for representatives of the Federation’s member organizations, and other interested people to meet and discuss major issues of common interest.  In the afternoon the conference will have a panel discussion on “The Future of the PhD” which will set out to recast that problem as an opportunity and investigate how the PhD can be transformed into a training program that leads toward a multiplicity of academic and non-academic career paths and strengthens what the humanities and social sciences can bring to the world.

Featured on the panel will be Sidonie Smith, Mary Fair Croushore Professor of the Humanities and Director, Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan. Dr. Smith is a past Big Thinking speaker at Congress on the topic of Sustainable Humanities.  You can see a video of her Big Thinking presentation here.


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