GraduateRoundtable The Entrepreneurial Historian

AHA Session 27
Thursday, January 3, 2013: 3:30 PM-5:30 PM
La Galerie 3 (New Orleans Marriott)
Laura E. Ettinger, Clarkson University
Alexandra M. Lord, Ultimate History Project
Brian W. Martin, History Associates Inc.
Michelle McClellan, University of Michigan
Patrick Moore, University of West Florida and Next Exit History
Jennifer Stevens, Stevens Historical Research and Boise State University
Kristen E. Gwinn-Becker, HistoryIT
The Malleable PhD

Session Abstract

As the academic job market has tightened and as federal, state, and local budgets have been slashed, it has become increasingly clear that historians must re-assess their approach to and understanding of the job market.  Through a discussion of for-profit history, this panel will explore the fundamental question currently confronting the historical profession: how can we expand our understanding of career options to enable more historians to practice their craft?

Using the format of a roundtable discussion, five entrepreneurial historians will explore questions about entrepreneurship, historical research, and historical ethics.  The discussion will be interactive and audience participation will be actively encouraged.  

The panel will explore a variety of questions including but not limited to: What does it mean to be an entrepreneurial historian?  Who buys history and why?  Can professional historians differentiate their services and products from those of non-professional historians in the history market?  Which skills learned in graduate school are needed to do for-profit history?  How do you negotiate shared authority with a customer who holds the balance of power in the form of your paycheck?  Can an academic career be compatible with doing history for profit?  Can for-profit history improve Americans’ understanding of the past and help keep history relevant to a wider audience?

Panelists range from the founders and presidents of historical consulting firms and other historical businesses to faculty who have successfully taught students to become entrepreneurial historians.  This range of experiences ensures that the discussion will be grounded in an understanding of how to create a history-focused business, how to run such an organization, how to build and maintain a client base, and how to operate these businesses on a day-to-day basis. By including faculty members on the panel, we will also discuss how faculty members can prepare their students for a career in both academia and for-profit history.

Through an exploration of new and different ways of doing history, this roundtable seeks to challenge the idea that history has value only within the classroom.

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