Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Humanities Pathways: notes from the National Humanities Conference

On Saturday, October 28, in Indianapolis, Indiana, I participated on a panel "Humanities Pathways" at the National Humanities Conference hosted by The Federation of State Humanities Councils and the National Humanities Alliance. The panel was organized by representatives from the Modern Language Association (MLA). 
I was joined on the panel by:
• Paula Krebs, executive director of MLA
• Jennifer William, professor and Head of the School of Languages and Cultures, Purdue University 
• Janine Utell, PhD (she/her) | Program Manager, Professional Development & Staff Liaison, MLA

Our session focused on the ways that undergraduate humanities programs can create pathways tp career readiness, beginning with recruitment and retention through humanities majors and beyond graduation.

I spoke about the work I've been doing with a literary and cultural studies course for Black students, which has proven vital to retention. Professor William, from Purdue, talked about the need for language programs to adapt to changing circumstances. She highlighted various steps she and her colleagues are taking to recruit students interested in majoring in languages (i.e. Spanish, French, German). 

supports "humanities departments and programs with the tools, networks, knowledge, and resources to help students find success throughout their education and after graduation." 

Utell offered context for the overall discussion and provided rationale for thinking about career readiness as well as key data points about students majoring in humanities as well as job satisfaction. She presented questions for the audience to discuss: 
Where are you on the road to building retention, recruitment, and career readiness pathways? 
• What are you already doing? 
• What is working? 
• How can you connect existing initiatives into a clear pathway for recruitment, retention, and career readiness?
• Where are your partners? 
• What kind of qualitative or quantitative impact are you envisioning having on building pathways in your program? 
• What resources do you need?
I enjoyed the conversation and got a chance to think about the work I've been doing at SIUE in a larger context. 

Prior to the conference, I've participated in a few recent conversations organized by MLA related to humanities, so this panel gave me a chance to extend some of those ideas. 


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