Howard University Initial Narrative Report from Howard University Department of History on the Shaping the Preparation of Future Social Science and Humanities Faculty Project
Submitted by Allison Blakely, Project Coordinator, August 11, 2000
From June 29 through July 2, three members of the History Department of Howard University employed funds from the grant to attend the PFF summer conference in Colorado Springs: the director of the graduate history program (Dr. David DeLeon), the director of the undergraduate history program (Dr. Selwyn Carrington), and one PFF history graduate student (Ms. Wanda Porter). They were part of a group of fifteen from Howard University, including representatives from the departments of Communications, English, and Political Science. The conference was an opportunity for the History delegates to discuss PFF issues with other members of the Howard community, with people from PFF programs in the same departments at other institutions, and with the broad community of those interested in PFF.
The introductory session focused on the point that while contemporary Ph.D. training emphasizes the production of scholars, only 5% of academic positions are at research I institutions. A graduate student in a doctoral program is often educated with a narrow disciplinary focus and told little of the teaching, service, and professional development responsibilities of future faculty. Such students may be ill prepared for job placement or for success in the professorate. The obvious conclusion is that a doctoral program that includes a track for those interested in faculty careers as well as general information to all of its students, will likely enhance their competitiveness in the present market.
Howard members of the history group attended a wide range of specific sessions, such as discipline?based meetings (i.e. all historians from PFF programs), graduate student discussions on training, job searches, and teaching, and a session on how to create institutional/departmental relationships with other nearby colleges and universities. Our delegation was impressed that changes should not be only "add ?ons" to existing classes but systemic efforts to mentor future faculty through new courses and workshops, along with integration of professional themes into existing courses. Graduate students should be informed of the range of academic institutions, how to conduct job searches, and how to plan courses, evaluate students, and use computer technology to prepare and deliver classes. We also noted encouragement to employ interdisciplinary dimensions in our work. The AHA website and publications list already illustrate these concerns about professional standards, updating knowledge through historiographical pamphlets, and on?line discussions of teaching concerns.
If future faculty are socialized by mentoring, classes, site visits at other institutions, and attendance at regional, local and national conferences, they should be prepared to develop professional portfolios that will impress likely employers. At Howard, the Diaspora and historiography courses broadly incorporate how the history discipline is evolving, its relations to cognate disciplines, the importance of new learning paradigms, and new technology. The electronic magazine of the University's Moorland?Spingarn collection also incorporates the work of historians and presents that work to a wide audience. PFF could reinforce and expand Howard's efforts to recruit, maintain, and develop graduate students who will be versatile and productive members of the historical profession. The activities planned for the PFF participants for the fall semester are as follows:
- A Teaching Assistants Workshop at Howard, August 23 and 2000
- A Leadership Conference on September 28' and 29, led by 25 College Presidents from Historically Black institutions. Among the main topics for discussion will be the plight and future of HBCUs and career preparation for doctoral students entering the professorate.
- A site visit to James Madison University on October 16h ? topics for discussion will Include hiring practices, salary and benefits, academic freedom, promotion and tenure practices, and mentoring.
- A site visit sometime in November to the Council of Graduate Schools
Last Updated: July 7, 2008