Now posted at the Inside Higher Ed website, an excerpt from Russell A. Berman’s presidential address at the 2012 meeting of the Modern Language Association.
Not all doctorate recipients will become faculty members, but all future faculty will come out of graduate programs. Do these programs serve the needs of graduate students well?
In light of the rate of educational debt carried by humanities doctoral recipients, twice that of their peers in sciences or engineering; in light of the lengthy time to degree in the humanities, reaching more than nine years; and in light of the dearth of opportunities on the job market, the system needs to be changed significantly. I want to begin to sketch out an agenda for reform.
The major problem on all of our minds is the job market, the lack of sufficient tenure-track openings for recent doctorate recipients. One response I have heard is the call to reduce the flow of new applicants for jobs by limiting access to advanced study in the humanities. If we prevent some students from pursuing graduate study—so the argument goes—we will protect the job market for others. I disagree.
Read the full essay here.