By Steven Mintz
Nothing concentrates the mind, Samuel Johnson quipped in 1777, more than the prospect of a hanging. And nothing focuses the minds of instructors of history survey courses quite like flagging enrollments, a loss of majors, and student disengagement.
Several months ago, the AHA released “Where Historians Work,” a series of interactive visualizations created as part of our ongoing effort to collect measurable data about the career paths of history PhDs. Since then, thousands of people have used the visualizations to get a sense of the rich variety of jobs that historians find after completing their doctoral education.
By Kristina Markman and Michael A. Ryan
Last year, we participated in a panel on “Career Diversity for the Medievalist” at the 51st annual meeting of the International Congress on Medieval Studies (ICMS). The ICMS is a premier academic conference in the field of medieval studies that draws over 3,000 specialists in all aspects of the medieval past from around the world to bucolic Kalamazoo for four days of scholarship and conviviality. As we both come from institutions whose history departments received the AHA’s Career Diversity for Historians Departmental Grants to reevaluate the training of historians for a variety of careers within and outside of academia, we intended to center this panel on the question of how medievalists can use their specific skill sets for many careers.
Over the past year, the nationwide decline of history majors and enrollments has become one of the AHA’s foremost concerns. Now, surprising news has arrived from Yale University: after a two-decade slip in popularity, history is the top declared major among its Class of 2019.
By Katie Streit
The challenging academic job market facing historians is one topic that is frequently discussed in graduate courses, academic journals, and job reports. While students are aware of the steep competition for limited positions, there are few resources available for identifying careers outside of academia and successfully marketing oneself for those positions. Fortunately, the AHA is trying to help with its Career Contacts program. The service connects graduate students and recent PhDs with historians working in various careers, including those employed in the government and nonprofit organizations.
Our first year of Career Diversity for Historians has confirmed what we initially suspected: addressing the issues embedded in graduate education requires grappling with the particularities of location and institution.
The AHA’s online Directory of History Dissertations has been expanded to include over 49,000 doctorates awarded by history departments in the United States and Canada.
Last week, President Obama offered a proposal to help make higher education more affordable, specifically addressing the increases in tuition costs and reliance on student loans.