Believe it or not, there is good news this year for new humanities Ph.D.’s and those in the “‘humanistic social sciences,’ defined as including history, anthropology and such areas as political theory, historical sociology and economic history.” (I thought history was already included the humanities, and utterly reject the notion that we’re some erstwhile “social science,” but wev.) Check this out (from Inside Higher Ed) :
The American Council of Learned Societies is creating 50 fellowships for new Ph.D.’s in the humanities, who will be eligible for two years of work at top colleges and universities. At a time when many of those on the job market in the humanities are scrambling to piece together adjunct slots with minimal pay and benefits, these fellows will receive $50,000 plus a $5,000 research or travel allowance annually, health insurance, and a one-time $1,500 moving allowance. And their teaching load can’t exceed three semester-long courses per year.
Who gets a shot at these positions? All 60 U.S. members of the Association of American Universities have been invited to nominate candidates who do not have a tenure-track position and who will have received a Ph.D. between January 2008 and December of 2009.
By the way, here’s the list of AAU member institutions. (I wonder what the rationale is for limiting the nominees to Ph.D.’s from these unis? I understand that limiting the host schools to AAU members probably has something to do with ensuring that all participating schools have the ability to offer the required matching funds–see below.) How will the fellowship program work?
AAU members may nominate between 5 and 40 individuals, based on the size of the Ph.D. classes they produce each year in the humanities.From these nominees, 50 finalists will be selected based on statements about their teaching and research interests.
Then the AAU universities and a few dozen liberal arts colleges (the latter group is still being defined) will be able to offer positions to the finalists, provided that the universities agree to pay one-third of the costs and the colleges one-fourth of the costs. The AAU institutions will not be allowed to offer positions to their own Ph.D.’s.
I think this is great, except for the oddly exclusional nature of the competition, because it seems like new Ph.D.’s are just going to be traded around by the AAU-affiliated schools. I also wonder about the unrealistic expectations of professional life once these postdocs wake up from their fairytale dreams. If the postdocs get tenure-track jobs, they’re still likely to be schlepping it at 4-year “directional universities” (you know–with “Northern,” “Southern,” “Eastern,” or “Western” somewhere in the university’s name) or at very small colleges with a 3-3 or a 4-4 load. Say bye-bye to your 1-2 load, your research budget, and your moving allowance!
Here’s the biggest head-scratcher in this whole story: “Any finalists who don’t get a job offer will get a one-year stipend of $35,000.” That’ s almost an incentive to be an a$$hole on a job interview, don’t’cha think? If I had the opportunity to earn $50,000 to teach a 1-2 load, or to get $35,000 for no responsibilities whatsoever. . . well, with that kind of consolation prize, I’d just have to think hard about whether it’s really worth all that to be my usual responsible, good-girl self. (Then again, being “myself” has won me exactly two academic job offers in my life, so maybe I’m doin’ it wrong enough as it is.)
Man, the real job market, where the winners get a job that is probably going to have at least twice the teaching load, and where the losers get unemployment, is going to be a pretty harsh landing for some of these golden parachute babies. What do the rest of y’all think?