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Letter: Public humanities can reshape graduate work

To the Editor:

I write to support and extend E.L Meszaros GS’ recent column “Increase Training in Public Scholarship.” As Meszaros notes, PhD students can take graduate level courses in Public Humanities and benefit from thinking about scholarship in public (in fact most PhD students in American Studies get a Masters of Arts in Public Humanities on the way to the doctorate).  PhD students join MA in Public Humanities students in participating in Brown’s innovative and influential public humanities graduate program, housed at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage.

Moreover, PhD students can now receive a certificate in Public Humanities. We designed the new certificate program to provide course work as well as an internship for PhD students whose scholarship has a public face and for those interested in teaching in the many public programs now starting in colleges and universities (including Public History, Public Anthropology, Digital Humanities, Public Sociology, Public Archaeology and Museum Studies).  In addition, PhD students with course work in Public Humanities often find work in non-profit cultural organizations.  The certificate requires four courses: two introductory courses, one practicum course, and one elective. You can learn more about it online and join PhD students from English, Anthropology and Egyptology and Assyriology already pursuing the certificate in Public Humanities. Sara Mohr GS wrote about her experiences working toward a certificate in a great blog post.

Any interested PhD student would be welcome to email me or Professor Steven Lubar, who supervises the program, with questions. We agree with E.L. Meszaros that training in public scholarship should be part of PhD programs and would go even further to insist that public humanities can help reinvigorate and reimagine graduate work in the humanities and social sciences.

Susan Smulyan
Director, John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage Professor, American Studies


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