Humanities PhDs and the Academic Job Market: A New Podcast Series

Erica Bennett and Jacob Barrett, podcast series hosts

Over the summer Erica Bennett, now in her final year of our M.A., worked with a recent M.A. alum, Jacob Barrett (now in the first year of his Ph.D. at UNC Chapel Hill), on a four part podcast series, devoted to the academic job market and the variety of careers for which Humanities Ph.D.s are suited — if, that is, Ph.D. students and the faculty who train them see careers outside academia as relevant sites where their research skills can be applied. With his own doctoral degree now starting, and the challenges of the Humanities job market in academia all too obvious to him, these conversations on just what a Ph.D. prepares students for, the applicability of the degree in a variety of settings, as well as faculty’s and Departments’ need to see their work as preparing students for more than just possible employment as a professor, are pretty relevant for Jacob, as they are for anyone in his position.

So, based on the reception to a tweet this past summer by Bradley Sommer (about being newly on the job market), himself a recent History Ph.D. graduate, this new podcast series involved Erica speaking first with Bradley about his ongoing job search and then checking in with Pamela Gilbert (an English Professor at the University of Florida), in the second episode, on some of the wider factors that impact a faculty member’s ability to assist students to think about (and find) careers outside of academia. In episode three we meet Jared Powell, an REL alum who double majored in English, then earned an MA in English at the University of Alabama, and who recently left his Ph.D. in English at UNC — a decision involving concerns about the current academic labor market. The series then wraps up with Erica and Jacob hearing from Shannon Trosper Schorey, a recent doctoral graduate in Religious Studies, also from UNC, who has established a career for herself in the tech sector at Red Hat — Shannon is a strong advocate for Humanities graduate programs rethinking how they train their students and the future work they’ll be doing.

We hope the series is helpful to students and faculty alike —
all four parts are now posted on SoundCloud and
on the REL website.