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The Education of Historians for the Twenty-first Century

The Education of Historians for the Twenty-first Century

Thomas Bender
Philip M. Katz
Colin Palmer
AHA Committee on Graduate Education
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    The Education of Historians for the Twenty-first Century
    Book Description:

    In 1958, the American Historical Association began a study to determine the status and condition of history education in U.S. colleges and universities. Published in 1962 and addressing such issues as the supply and demand for teachers, student recruitment, and training for advanced degrees, that report set a lasting benchmark against which to judge the study of history thereafter. Now, more than forty years later, the AHA has commissioned a new report. The Education of Historians for the Twenty-first Century documents this important new study's remarkable conclusions. _x000B__x000B_Both the American academy and the study of history have been dramatically transformed since the original study, but doctoral programs in history have barely changed. This report from the AHA explains why and offers concrete, practical recommendations for improving the state of graduate education. The Education of Historians for the Twenty-first Century stands as the first investigation of graduate training for historians in more than four decades and the best available study of doctoral education in any major academic discipline. _x000B__x000B_Prepared for the AHA by the Committee on Graduate Education, the report represents the combined efforts of a cross-section of the entire historical profession. It draws upon a detailed review of the existing studies and data on graduate education and builds upon this foundation with an exhaustive survey of history doctoral programs. This included actual visits to history departments across the country and consultations with scores of individual historians, graduate students, deans, academic and non-academic employers of historians, as well as other stakeholders in graduate education. _x000B__x000B_As the ethnic and gender composition of both graduate students and faculty has changed, methodologies have been refined and the domains of historical inquiry expanded. By addressing these revolutionary intellectual and demographic changes in the historical profession, The Education of Historians for the Twenty-first Century breaks important new ground. Combining a detailed historical snapshot of the profession with a rigorous analysis of these intellectual changes, this volume is ideally positioned as the definitive guide to strategic planning for history departments. It includes practical recommendations for handling institutional challenges as well as advice for everyone involved in the advanced training of historians, from department chairs to their students, and from university administrators to the AHA itself. _x000B__x000B_Although focused on history, there are lessons here for any department. The Education of Historians for the Twenty-first Century is a model for in-depth analysis of doctoral education, with recommendations and analyses that have implications for the entire academy. This volume is required reading for historians, graduate students, university administrators, or anyone interested in the future of higher education.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09049-3
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Colin Palmer

    In 1958, the American Historical Association (AHA) appointed a Committee on Graduate Education to examine and report on the training of the nation’s historians. Supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the study was directed by John L. Snell and chaired by Dexter Perkins. It addressed such pertinent issues as the supply and demand for university teachers, student recruitment patterns, undergraduate education in history, and training for the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. The Committee submitted its report,The Education of Historians in the United States, to the profession in 1962. It was an extraordinary document, comprehensive in scope and...


    • 1 We Historians
      (pp. 3-44)

      We historians are a large and variegated group. This report from the American Historical Association’s Committee on Graduate Education to the profession embraces a large-tent definition of ourselves—one that includes scholars and teachers of history, whether in colleges and universities, museums and historical societies, community colleges, or K–12 educational institutions. Fellow historians with advanced education in the discipline are not only employed as teachers but also work in other settings where they apply their historical knowledge to a variety of pursuits, as journalists, editors, curators, and filmmakers; in research institutes and historical societies, law offices, libraries, and government...

    • 2 Necessary Discussions
      (pp. 45-84)

      The Committee on Graduate Education’s general impression is that historians are acutely aware of major changes in the intellectual agenda of the discipline, the issue of demographic change in higher education (including the importance of diversity in the profession), and the changing ecology of employment. This awareness has not, however, led many historians to rethink the basic missions, structure, and practices of graduate education. For example, while many historians recognize major shifts in faculty and student interests toward transnational, comparative, thematic, and interdisciplinary approaches, this knowledge has not affected the structure of doctoral curricula in significant ways. Nor has there...

    • 3 Recommendations
      (pp. 85-106)

      The Committee on Graduate Education was charged by the AHA Council to study graduate education; to examine current concerns that faculty, students, and employers have about it; and to make recommendations to the profession at large.¹ While the broadest issues for local and national discussion are outlined in the preceding chapter, more specific recommendations, often in the form of “best practices,” are addressed in this chapter. These two chapters thus work together, with the suggestions and recommendations complementary and equally important.

      Some of the Committee’s recommendations are based on practices that we have observed through surveys, site visits, the published...


    • 4 The National Shape of Doctoral Education: A Survey of Graduate Programs
      (pp. 109-138)

      The initial task facing the Committee on Graduate Education when it was created by the AHA Council in 2000 was “to obtain a clear sense of the national shape of doctoral education” for historians.¹ The Committee needed reliable and fairly detailed information about the present state of graduate training before it could offer any useful recommendations for the future. There was also a suspicion, abundantly confirmed in the course of this investigation, that most faculty members and graduate students have but a hazy familiarity with the workings of other graduate programs and that it would be a service to the...

  7. Appendix A: Consultations with the Discipline
    (pp. 139-140)
  8. Appendix B: List of Respondents to the Graduate Program Survey
    (pp. 141-143)
  9. Appendix C: Survey Instrument and Numerical Results, AHA Survey of Doctoral Programs in History (Spring 2001)
    (pp. 144-196)
  10. Selected Bibliography on Graduate Training and Historians
    (pp. 197-216)
  11. Index
    (pp. 217-222)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 223-224)