We are working hard to win the hearts and minds of faculty and graduate students and to nurture interest, especially at the departmental level, in imagining new approaches to doctoral training. In order to build upon and extend faculty buy-in and to enhance faculty skills as we move forward, we are organizing four two-day faculty retreats focused on the best pedagogical practices for instilling capacities essential for success both within academia and in the world beyond — capacities often neglected in humanities graduate seminars, but considered by leading academic associations to be foundational to career diversity (see, for example, the MLA’s “Transferable Skills for PhDs in the Humanities” and the AHA’s “The Career Diversity Five Skills”). Included are such capacities as project management, collaborative research and writing, public presentation, communication in a variety of media and for multiple audiences, and digital and quantitative literacy. In addition, because many PhDs in the humanities will take up teaching positions at institutions other than research universities, it is essential that best practices for teaching the humanities at all levels, including in high schools and community colleges, be incorporated into graduate training. An informal survey of our humanities departments indicates that some faculty have already begun to build these key capacities into their graduate seminars, especially collaborative research and writing, digital skills, and numeracy, but they remain the exception, not the rule.
We therefore intend to offer four retreats over the cycle of our grant: fall 2018, fall 2019, spring 2021 (postponed from fall due to COVID-19), and fall 2021. We will invite experts to lead working sessions on topics such as collaborative learning environments, building numeracy into humanities syllabi, and community engagement and the public humanities, although we expect that as our local experiences and expertise expand, we will increasingly incorporate presentations by our own faculty.
Participants (20) will receive a stipend for taking part in the retreats. In addition to our own faculty, we intend to include approximately five faculty from neighboring institutions (Saint Louis University, University of Missouri at St. Louis, Webster University, Harris-Stowe State University, Forest Park Community College and Meramec Community College). Our aim in this regard is twofold: 1) to encourage the development of robust inter-school graduate cohorts through the development of cross-institutional, interdisciplinary graduate seminars (especially relevant vis-à-vis Saint Louis University and the University of Missouri at St. Louis); and 2) to initiate conversations among humanities faculty and staff based at a range of local institutions that might “seed” or encourage future curricular innovation at Washington University and at our partner institutions (see Curricular Innovation Grants below for examples). We are confident that after four years, we will have developed the expertise locally to continue this training without external support.