Modern Language Association Data and Advocacy Social Impact Fellowship

Fellowship Description

This fellowship is an opportunity to learn to apply your humanistic interests and expertise outside a traditional teaching position and to develop marketable skills that will be valuable in both traditional academic work and in the larger humanities ecosystem of cultural institutions, non-profits, foundations, and other mission-driven organizations.  

Fellowship Goals

  • Developing a deeper understanding of the changing landscape of the humanities in higher education, from the challenges individual departments and programs are faced with to larger structural trends;
  • Gaining experience in building programs, planning events, conducting outreach campaigns, and collecting and analyzing data;
  • Growing a network of professionals within and beyond the humanities ecosystem through meaningful interactions and collaborations;
  • Learning first-hand about the office culture, structures, and workflows of a medium-sized nonprofit organization.

Desired Experience and Skills

  • Pursuing a PhD in the humanities or humanistic social sciences;
  • Passion for improving humanities education at the BA, MA, and PhD levels;
  • Demonstrated interest in the value of the humanities beyond the university, and in the wide range of careers available to humanists;
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, including the ability to write for different audiences;
  • Effectiveness in meeting deadlines and managing multiple projects at once;
  • Ability to contribute in a collaborative environment
  • Enthusiasm for learning new skills and concepts; openness to asking questions and seeking help when needed.

Fellowship Options

As a Doctoral Fellow at the MLA, you will collaborate with our team to create and improve membership resources, with a focus on projects that support professional development for faculty members and department leaders and on innovative program change in higher education. In addition to assisting with the planning and administration of some of our most successful projects, including the MLA Annual Convention, the MLA Institute on Reading and Writing Pedagogy,  and the ADE-ADFL Summer Seminars, the Fellow will contribute in one of the following areas (please indicate which you prefer in your statement of interest). 

Professional Development and Advocacy OR  Data and Advocacy 

Data and Advocacy Fellowship

The MLA language enrollment census is a crucial part of the association’s endeavor to study and explain the state of language study in higher education. It reveals trends over time and shows how enrollments have increased and decreased, and in which languages. It also provides indispensable information for planning language programs for humanities divisions, language departments, and administrators. Publishers depend on enrollment figures for developing book projects. Public and private agencies consult the MLA census to plan future funding.

Results from the 2016 MLA language enrollment census showed a loss of enrollments in languages other than English at US colleges and universities, as well as a loss in the number of languages taught at institutions. Preliminary results from the 2021 census show a similar trend—an institution that reported enrollments in four languages in 2016, for example, may now report enrollments in only two.

How widespread is this phenomenon? Which languages are most affected? Which kinds of institutions are most affected? We are looking for a doctoral fellow with data skills who will do a deep dive into the data to answer these questions and to look for patterns and trends.

The fellow will learn to interpret, explain, and visually present data. They will acquire knowledge about the importance of gathering and interpreting data in order to understand what is happening in higher education in the field of humanities. The intern will learn about the value of data for defending language and literature programs in times of crisis, as well as ways to help departments to innovate and pivot in this difficult environment. 

The project will require the writing of a report and a presentation of the results in graphic format. There is the possibility of publication of the results on the MLA website. The results will be used at seminars and webinars, and will be added to toolkits, so that the project does not simply involve the analysis of data, but leads to advocacy for the language profession.

This position requires experience with Excel spreadsheets, pivot tables, charts, and graphs. Experience in data analysis is desirable but not required. 

Natalia Lusin, Head of Research, will serve as mentor, collaborating with the Fellow to identify strengths and interests in humanities-related professions and to facilitate reflection on possible career paths.  The Fellow will be expected to meet with their mentor on a biweekly basis to discuss their projects and how they contribute to their own professional development.

Your Host

MLA logo

The Modern Language Association, based in New York City, is one of the world’s largest scholarly associations, with approximately 25,000 members in nearly 100 countries. The MLA promotes the study and teaching of languages and literatures through its programs, publications, annual convention, and advocacy work. The organization sustains a wide-ranging print and electronic publishing program that includes books, journals, style guides, and an international bibliography. The MLA is a leader in supporting the humanities within and outside academia. Diversity, inclusion, and workplace equity are at the core of our culture, policies, and practices. 

SIF Mentor

Natalia Lusin
Associate Director of Programs and Head of Research in the Office of Programs at the Modern Language Association

Natalia Lusin is Associate Director of Programs and Head of Research in the Office of Programs at the Modern Language Association. She has worked at the MLA in a research capacity since 1992, and as Associate Director since 2012. She conducts data gathering and data analysis for studies on the modern language field, among them the MLA enrollment census, considered the standard measure of language interest in higher education in the US.

Current & Former MLA Fellows

Andrew Meraz-Quiroz, GS, SLA
Social Impact Fellow

Andrew works primarily on Russian prose of the 20th century and is especially interested in the forms and functions of short-form prose. His scholarly interests include, among others, the development of the Russian novel, its initial reliance on and eventual departure from Western models (in particular, the French novel), and Russian and Soviet imperialism. He works in English, Russian, and French.

Lidia Tripiccione, GS, SLA
Social Impact Fellow

"I was born and raised in Italy, where I earned my BA in foreign languages (German and Russian) and my MA in Philosophy of Language. After that, I moved to Princeton and I am currently a rising fifth-year student at the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. I am interested in the reception of Russian and Soviet theories of literature in the USA and several European countries during the Cold War."