What Is the New York City Proseminar?

"New york times square-terabass" by Terabass - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

New York Times Square” by Terabass. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Each academic year until 2018, the MLA is running a proseminar on careers for twenty graduate students and recent PhD recipients in the New York City area. Proseminar participants explore the full range of careers open to humanities PhDs, from tenure-track positions to employment in business, government, and nonprofit organizations. Each participant receives $2,000 to support his or her participation in the program.

The proseminar emphasizes the importance of certain skills, such as the ability to grow and maintain a professional network and to establish an online presence, for career exploration and development. Workshops held three times per semester with MLA staff (all with PhDs) help participants hone these and other skills.

The Humanities at Work

Participants also visit local cultural organizations and educational institutions that employ PhDs to meet their staffs and learn more about what they do. These site visits underscore the versatility of the humanities PhD for a much wider range of careers than has traditionally been acknowledged. For 2015–16, site visit locations include the following organizations in New York City:

  • New York Public Library
  • American Council for Learned Societies
  • Futures Initiative at CUNY
  • Teagle Foundation
  • Frick Collection
  • American Association of Publishers
  • NYU Humanities Center and NYU Press
  • Whiting Foundation

The 2015–16 Cohort

The 2015–16 cohort was selected from 245 applicants. They represent eleven different universities from four states. The cohort is diverse in background and experience, but as a whole its members were chosen for their energy, thoughtfulness, and ability to articulate the stakes of larger conversations about careers for humanists and graduate education in the humanities. Proseminar participants are ambassadors for the program, taking ideas and information back to their institutions, representing the initiative at regional and national events, and blogging on this Web site about what they have learned. It is our hope that the proseminar will result in a tool kit of materials that institutions and departments can use to help their graduate students, whatever the students’ chosen career paths.

For more information about the proseminar, please write to Stacy Hartman, the Connected Academics Project Coordinator, at shartman@mla.org.

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