American Higher Ed: History, Culture, and Challenges

Join us for an engaging dinner workshop series that works as a discussion community. Graduate students are at the heart of that community, but we extend it to the whole university. The gatherings offer you a chance to talk to people from parts of the university you may not often see (junior and senior faculty members from different fields, and administrators ranging from deans to university press editors), in a setting that emphasizes common cause, not hierarchy. We meet every few weeks from October through early December, with two site visits (to a state college and a community college to meet with Presidents, Faculty, and Students) after the winter break, followed by a final social gathering early in the Spring semester. A full list of sessions (dates, subject matter) is below. While the conversations are wide-ranging, the reading load is minimal; we know that everyone is busy. 

Designed for graduate students pursuing tenure track careers, as well as those considering a range of careers in higher education, session topics range from the rise of the PhD as the central academic credential, to graduate education’s role in the research university, to the role of faculty in university governance. As you know, these are challenging times for our institutions and our profession. This workshop focuses on subjects we all need to think about—and discuss—together. Read more about the series.

The cohort will be limited to approximately 15 eligible graduate students, and preference will be given to Ph.D. students in the Humanities and Social Sciences. This series is a joint venture between the Humanities Council and GradFUTURES. Questions? Contact James M. Van Wyck, [email protected].

Learning Objectives

This GLC takes a long view of American higher education, framing its problems and prospects in historical terms. Participants gain a deeper understanding of the history and culture of the academic landscape:

  • How did we get here?
  • Where are we headed and why?
  • Where should we be headed?
"Graduate education in the humanities is changing.  Most humanities PhDs will not secure tenure-track jobs.  Discussions about how to respond to this state of affairs are vital. The Higher Ed workshop is where those discussions are taking place. The workshop is an important forum for exploring graduate student professional development in the twenty-first century."

Josh Kotin, Associate Professor, Department of English


Yuzhou Bai *23, EAS
Professional Development Associate 2019-21
Social Impact Fellow
Clio Hall Award Recipient
Sarah Carson *20, HOS
Visiting Assistant Professor, Northwestern
GradFUTURES Learning Cohort Participant
Leonard Cassuto
American Higher Education Learning Cohort Convener
Inaugural GRADitude Award for Advancing Graduate Professional Development Recipient
Rebecca Giblon, GS, HIS
GradFUTURES Learning Cohort Participant
William A. Gleason
Hughes-Rogers Professor of English and American Studies
GradFUTURES Learning Cohort Participant
Stanley N. Katz
Professor of Public and International Affairs;
Director of the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies;
GradFUTURES Learning Cohort Participant
Josh Kotin
Associate Professor, Department of English
GradFUTURES Learning Cohort Participant
Future Faculty Workshop Speaker
Lucy Partman *21, ART
Founder, Partman Strategies LLC
UAF Alum & GradFUTURES Learning Cohort Participant
Clio Hall Award Recipient
Dylan Principi, GS, MUS
University Administrative Fellow
James M. Van Wyck
Assistant Dean for Professional Development
James Watson-Krips, GS, EAS
University Administrative Fellow
Shengyu Yang, GS, EAS
Community College Teaching Fellow
Participant, American Higher Ed GradFUTURES Learning Cohort
“The American Higher Education series was a great opportunity to develop a cross-disciplinary and multi-stage academic community, in a setting where it was safe and encouraged to talk frankly about the structures of the university and career paths leading from the Ph.D. I benefited from a window into the administration at Princeton and deeply appreciated learning about the different kinds of higher education settings across the US landscape (beyond the R1 and Ivy League) where many Princeton PhDs may eventually find themselves. The small-group seminar setting was fruitful for refreshing conversations that demystified how 'the university' works and keyed me into current debates and challenges for its future.” 

Sarah Carson *20, HOS

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About GradFUTURES Learning Cohorts


GradFUTURES’ interdisciplinary learning cohorts build community among and between graduate students and reinforce each student’s graduate training while drawing on their content knowledge to inform the cohort’s investigation of the topic. As part of the cohort, students will read and discuss books, articles, and case studies. Learning cohorts typically also include at least one experiential component such as an immersive project, a site visit, conference presentation, or fellowship/internship opportunities. Interdisciplinary discussions, reflection, synthesis, community building, and immersive experiences are integral components of each learning cohort experience.

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