An Introduction to Connected Academics from MLA Executive Director Rosemary G. Feal

Rosemary FealThe MLA is thrilled to be working with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and our academic partners on Connected Academics. This ambitious, multiyear project has a dual vision: to promote the rich variety of careers available to PhDs in the humanities and to equip doctoral programs with the tools to support students who might be interested in exploring a wide range of career options.

We already know that doctoral training in humanistic inquiry brings with it certain skills and expertise, of which teaching, research, and writing are the most immediately recognizable. Yet another set of experiences is also integral to the doctoral degree: project management, editing, public speaking, synthesizing information for a variety of audiences—eminently transferable skills that lend themselves to a wide array of intellectually stimulating careers.

The Connected Academics initiative is about the world of education writ large and aims to give full recognition to doctoral program graduates who have found professional success beyond as well as in the postsecondary classroom, both on campus and off.

Connected Academics has an ambitious scope for good reason: PhDs in our fields deserve to be aware of the full range of career options available to them. By reconnecting PhDs already working in careers beyond postsecondary teaching with current students in doctoral programs, the project aims to provide graduate students access to examples of career success across the widest possible range of professional settings. By bringing PhDs working in nonprofessorial positions to the MLA convention to share their experiences, this initiative promises to provide today’s job seekers with empowering and impressive role models and mentors in the world beyond the university. And by helping New York–based proseminar fellows forge intellectual and professional networks, Connected Academics will facilitate resource sharing and help build a trove of knowledge that can be passed from cohort to cohort, from institution to institution.

The MLA has been supporting the broad career aspirations of our members for years—we published Alternative Careers for Ph.D.’s in the Humanities thirty-two years ago—but Connected Academics is the fullest expression of our commitment to helping our PhDs gain the knowledge and make the connections to help them succeed today. I invite you to explore the project and lend your support.