About Reshaping the Future of Graduate Education in the Humanities

Full name/name of organization:
University of South Florida

Contact Information:
Stephanie Derisi: sderisi@mail.usf.edu
Will Forde-Mazrui: willfordemaz@mail.usf.edu
John Lennon, PhD: jflennon@usf.edu

There is no shortage of experts declaring the death of the Humanities on university campuses throughout the United States. Politicians question the "value" of a humanities-based graduate education while students uneasily balance a need for professionalization with a desire for intellectual exploration. A defeatism has often hampered students and professors as they both struggle to understand the shifting dynamics of graduate education in the Humanities.

That defeatism has been combated by many activists, intellectuals and educators who, across campuses and fields, are working toward re-inventing what it means to engage in humanitarian work both inside and outside the academy. The "crisis" within the humanities includes facing national massive budget cuts, threats of departmental closures, and uncertainty of job security among faculty and students. But "crisis," as Cedric Johnson reminds us, is fundamentally about agency—creating narratives to respond to issues that arise. This symposium is intended to move away from the defeatist and paternalistic attitude of those who are controlling the "crisis" narrative and instead dialogue with graduate students, faculty and administrators who are using this moment to intervene and shape the humanities in ways that respect and evolve our discipline. Innovation, creativity, and further advocacy of humanities education will restore its relevancy in the current technologically dynamic century and create new narratives that show the active role(s) the Humanities play in academia and our society.


Our one-day symposium is intended to move away from traditional modes of delivery and panels and move to one that is more collective and communal. Instead of having numerous panels where presenters give isolated talks, our vision is one of multiple conversations. We are honored to welcome both Dr. Paul Jay, Professor of English at Loyola University Chicago and Dr. Steven Jones, Professor and DeBartolo Chair of Digital Humanities at the University of South Florida who will begin our conversation.

Attendees will also engage in discussions with speakers from multiple disciplines to include History, Anthropology, Women's and Gender Studies, Philosophy, English, among others. After breakfast and the first plenary, we will have a round-table discussion on issues graduate students in the Humanities are facing while in the university (curricular reforms, publishing, student activism, transitioning from the MA to the PhD, tenure track realities and strategies). After a (free) catered lunch, our second roundtable discussion will be on opportunities outside of academia (alt-ac careers, resume building and informational interviews, stress management, alumni experiences outside academia). We will then conclude with our second plenary speaker.

There will be ample breaks over food and coffee for participants to meet together, strategize and informally converse on pertinent topics. On hand will also be advisors who will meet in one-on-one or small sessions and conduct CV, resume workshops and interview techniques.

While this symposium is free, we do ask you to register ahead of time so we know a headcount for food and beverages.