Reimagining Student Mentoring for (Public) Humanities Doctoral Training

Friday, January 4, 2019: 9:30 AM
Waldorf Room (Hilton Chicago)
Ricardo Ortiz, Georgetown University
Reimagining Student Mentoring for (Public) Humanities Doctoral Training

As an institutional partner on the Mellon-funded Connected Academics project, one of Georgetown University’s key contributions to that project has been the design of a first-ever PhD Program in Public Humanities. Central to that design has been the rethinking of the traditional advising structure, beginning with imaging a hybrid model, one where students enter the program exercising greater agency over their selection of mentors, and where from the beginning they work with at least a pair if not a team of mentors representing both the academic and the non-academic, “public" fields relevant to their intellectual interests and professional ambitions.

This hybrid mentoring model will integrate non-academic professional considerations across the phases of students’ training, from coursework to fieldwork to the design of the doctoral research project, but also through a year-long “residency” in a non-academic professional space that will be a requirement for earning the degree, and that will also play a role in the production of the culminating doctoral project.

This alternative advisement structure will serve as a driver of the larger program’s overall innovation. First, it will attract students who from the beginning will commit themselves to pursue their training for objectives other than placement in tenure-line professorial positions. Second, it will model for faculty mentors a culture of intellectual and professional support for students that not only prioritizes linkages to the non-academic professional world, but that encourages direct, robust collaboration with non-academic professional peers in doing that mentoring work.

The Georgetown Public Humanities PhD program therefore hopes to re-train faculty as it trains students, offering both populations the opportunity to contribute actively to a broader cultural change in higher education around teaching, learning, research, and student professional development.

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