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.
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.
We are making available, to members and nonmembers alike, Robert B. Townsend’s article for the April issue of Perspectives on History, which analyzes Department of Education research and finds that the number of history bachelor’s degrees awarded has declined for the first time in a decade.
As an example of the kinds of public information on placement of history PhDs recently recommended by the AHA’s Professional Division, Liz Townsend, the Association’s coordinator of professional data, prepared the following list of departmental websites that include at least some information on placement. Only three departments report specific statistics; most have only limited lists of jobs obtained by their graduates. If we failed to find other history department web pages that include placement information, please let us know.
The Department of Education has just published a new Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) that tries to reduce our discipline to a few categories ranging from American history to military history, but the categories selected for note offer a rather distorted picture of what students are being taught in our field.
Article By: Robert B. Townsend