For generations, the training of history Ph.D. candidates has remained relatively static. Graduate students are expected to research and publish book-length dissertations with the ultimate goal of obtaining a tenure-track position at a four-year college or university. But in practice, Ph.D.s are increasingly seeking alternative, non-academic careers, while advances in technology and the development of new media have provided rich opportunities for them to share their work and engage with academics and the public. Change isn’t just coming, it’s already here. Which raises an interesting question: What is the future of the history Ph.D.?
On April 23, 2014, professor of history Daniel Smail of Harvard University’s Department of History organized a panel discussion with three experts in the humanities: Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and University Librarian at Harvard University; Robert Townsend, director of the Washington office of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and Caroline Winterer, Anthony P. Meier Family Professor in the Humanities and the director of the Stanford Humanities Center. They shared their thoughts about the past, present, and future of the discipline with a packed room of graduate students and faculty