NEH Next Generation Humanities PhD Planning

The Center for the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis, in collaboration with stakeholders both within and outside of the traditional humanities disciplines, was awarded an NEH Next Generation Humanities PhD planning grant during AY 2016-17 in order to plan for a full reconceptualization of doctoral training in the humanities at our institution.

Our project, titled “Cohorts, Courses, Qualifications, and Careers: Reconceptualizing the Humanities PhD at Washington University,” brought together faculty, administrators, current graduate students and alumni in four working groups, each meeting monthly to address challenges that impact the successive stages of humanities PhD training, from the constitution of incoming cohorts through academic coursework and ABD training/internships through career advising and post-dissertation placement. We also invited four outside consultants from peer institutions, who met with a range of stakeholders both inside and outside the working groups. The white paper we published at the conclusion of our planning period identifies some of the action items that emerged from this work.


In 2017–18, new initiatives included:

1.     A new website hosted by the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) in Arts & Sciences to highlight the multiplicity of graduate careers, with a particular focus on the humanities PhD.

2.     Launch of a new graduate certificate in Data Science in the Humanities (DASH).

3.     A new program on “Innovation in the Humanities” being launched by the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

4.     A pilot self-assessment program for humanities graduate students via the Career Center, using the new career exploration and planning tool Imagine PhD.

5.     A series of brown-bag workshops for graduate students focusing on a range of skills and capacities especially useful for success in careers beyond academia and cosponsored by the Center for the Humanities, the Career Center, and the OGS. These workshops will include areas such as professional networking tools, design thinking, use of popular non-academic media tools, and effective use of presentation software.

6.     A fall 2017 panel cosponsored by the Center for the Humanities, the Career Center, and the OGS, featuring four humanities PhDs (including WU alumni) who have had impressive careers outside the university classroom.

7.     A spring 2018 one-day pilot workshop at the Center for the Humanities for faculty on how to incorporate skills such as collaborative research/writing and public presentation into graduate seminars.

8.     A spring 2018 Humanities PhD Career Fair from the Career Center.

9.     Regular meetings of a standing committee including faculty directors of graduate studies, current PhD students, and administrators focused on graduate career development, in order to continue planning events and initiatives that will further transform our humanities PhD experience.

Resource List

Committee Members

  • Jean Allman (Principal Investigator)

    Professor, Department of History; J.H. Hexter Professor in the Humanities; Director, Center for the Humanities

  • Wendy Love Anderson

    Assistant Director of Academic Programs, Center for the Humanities

  • Jim Beirne

    Director of External Relations, Career Planning & Placement

  • Elizabeth C. Childs

    Etta and Mark Steinberg Professor of Art History; Chair, Department of Art History and Archaeology

  • Aaron Coleman

    Ph.D student in Comparative Literature; Chancellor’s Fellow

  • Joe Loewenstein

    Professor, Department of English; Director, Humanities Digital Workshop; Director, Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities

  • Laurie Maffly-Kipp

    Archer Alexander Distinguished Professor in Religion and Politics; Director, Religious Studies Program

  • Diana Hill Mitchell

    Associate Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

  • Timothy Moore

    John and Penelope Biggs Distinguished Professor of Classics; Chair, Department of Classics

  • Mark Smith

    Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs; Director, Career Center

  • Michael Sherberg

    Professor of Italian; Chair, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures

  • Lynne Tatlock

    Hortense and Tobias Lewin Distinguished Professor in the Humanities; Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures; Director, Comparative Literature Program


Questions? Contact principal investigator Jean Allman.