I was pleased to participate in a panel discussion on the importance of acquiring and developing transferable skills in graduate school.
Once again, It appears I’ve earned my reputation as Dr. Doom when it comes to talks about the prospects of graduate students. However, I hope my points are taken seriously. It’s time for graduate students as well as non-elite graduate programs to face the facts: you (or your students in the case of programs) are highly unlikely to ever come within sniffing distance of a tenure track faculty gig. Hell, over-production of Ph.D.’s has meant that even SLAC gigs are unlikely due to the massive numbers of elite-school Ph.D.’s looking for TT work.
While articles like “We Must Prepare Ph.D. Students for the Complicated Art of Teaching” by Derek Bok are well-intentioned, they are ultimately unhelpful. Those teaching jobs are gone and they aren’t coming back. Even the horrid conditions of adjunct work won’t be available much longer as advances in personalized and adaptive learning platforms move into automation of much of the intro-level coursework that contingent faculty are given to teach.
We need to be re-thinking the Ph.D. in terms of praxis: the ability to apply theoretical, substantive disciplinary knowledge alongside skilled practice applied to meaningful tasks.
Fooling ourselves will get us nowhere. I’m happy that the University of Kentucky is taking steps to help its graduate students prepare for non-ac/alt-ac careers, and I look forward to working with the UK Graduate School to help our amazing grad students prepare for their futures.