Collaboration and Doctoral Training: Professionalization, Career Diversity, and Public Engagement

AHA Session 207
Saturday, January 5, 2019: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Stevens C-1 (Hilton Chicago, Lower Level)
Antoinette Burton, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The Audience

Session Abstract

At the 2018 annual meeting of the American Historical Association, a series of panels featured graduate students and faculty who were engaged in collaborative research projects of various kinds, discussing both the challenges and the rewards of collaborative work. From co-teaching to co-writing, the panelists demonstrated the merits of collaborative research, both as means of professional development for graduate students, as well as a way for faculty to bridge disciplinary and temporal bounds to draw new connections in research and pedagogy. The ensuing conversation following these panel presentations raised important questions about the academic levels at which collaborative should work take place. Are the hierarchical divisions between graduate students and faculty so great that collaboration between them is not only infeasible, but may be inappropriate or unethical? During this time when scholars are increasingly called to engage with publics outside the academy, how do academics navigate complex power differentials to collaborate towards mutually beneficial ends?

To address these concerns, participants on this roundtable will give short presentations on their experiences collaborating with colleagues of diverse educational and professional backgrounds—faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students at different institutions and across disciplines, as well as artists and community members. In order to represent a diversity of experiences while allowing for a robust discussion with audience members, each presenter will speak for 5-7 minutes. Because these questions are relevant to scholars from many disciplines, this panel is submitted to the annual meetings of both the American Historical Association as well as the Modern Language Association.

While acknowledging that academic culture in the humanities may discourage collaborative work, these presentations will demonstrate how it can offer an important avenue for professionalization and empowerment of graduate students. Some presenters will address the benefits and challenges in collaborative research efforts that are “vertically integrated” among doctoral students, master’s students, faculty, and even undergraduate students. Others on this roundtable will show how public engagement and work with community members outside of the academy can bridge intellectual and institutional divides, while simultaneously preparing graduate students for a variety of career paths.

Our panelists have been involved with projects such as the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation “Humanities Without Walls” initiative, the University of Iowa Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy, and the Bass Connections program at Duke University. The institutional diversity of the panel allows us to also compare how differing circumstances and institutional arrangements can facilitate collaboration.

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