In the November 2015 issue of the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, AHA Director Jim Grossman, reported out on the first phase of the Tuning Project, an initiative that “has helped the Association and 150 of its members think about this broader aspect of history education in ways that can help graduate students situate their discipline within the larger enterprise of liberal education.” The future of doctoral programs in history, Grossman argues in “To Be a Historian is to Be a Teacher,” is also its present, and the present is digital. “Most of our largest PhD programs train students for positions that only a small minority will attain,” he writes:
tenurable appointments in “high research activity” institutions. Among history PhDs graduated between 1998 and 2009 who currently teach in higher education, approximately 75 percent are either outside “high research activity” institutions or off the tenure track. This means that the process and products embodied in much of graduate education—writing books and scholarly articles, teaching lecture courses and highly specialized seminars, and perhaps even preparing grant proposals for major fellowships—leave aside the principal issues and tasks that faculty at teaching-oriented institutions must engage. And those that faculty even at high-level research universities ought to engage.
In their teaching practice, humanities faculty are already navigating multiple platforms that support teaching, evaluation practices and student success on a daily basis. “The ways that digital tools now dissolve the boundaries between scholarship and teaching make this an opportune time to address these long-standing issues,” Grossman argues. “The AHA has already resolved to put its imprimatur on and resources into elevating digital dissemination of knowledge onto the same plane as print. If we believe in putting teaching on that plane as well, too few of us have communicated that belief to graduate students.”