Alternative Academics THATCamp

Hello and welcome to the Alt-Ac THATCamp page. Please check often for updates as we develop this event coming the first weekend in October. For now, here is a brief description of what we hope this event will be.

An October 2012 post in the Chronicle of Higher Education explores the academic job market for history Ph.D’s and gives us some hard figures, the most disturbing that, “70 percent of teaching jobs at U.S institutions are now non-tenure-track posts, and nearly 50 percent are part time,” (“What Doors Does a Ph.D. in History Open?”). With different universities offering differing levels of support and acceptance of these facts, it has been increasingly up to graduate students themselves to shoulder the terrifying burden of graduating with a Ph.D, student loans, and no job in sight. After spending a large chunk of their time specializing in a narrow area of research, teaching undergraduate courses, and writing, these students often have difficulty imagining themselves in public or private sector jobs. If their professors have a similar background, how can they advise their students seeking jobs outside academia? Where are the resources for students who see dismal figures like these and decide to try their hands at something else?

THATCamp Alt-Ac will utilize the unconference model to think through these problems. Most of us are aware that there are very few tenure-track jobs listed each year and that one needs to put multiple years into multiple applications in order to find a job, if one ever does. This conference is a space to think outside of this option and explore the many opportunities our talents and experiences can afford us. The unconference model allows conference attendees to be participants as well as organizers of the event. We will have only one fixed workshop occupying panel time with the rest being organized and proposed by the participants the day of the event. This will allow the time spent to be used in the most useful way possible by the specific group of individuals who choose to attend.
The open form of the THATCamp also encourages a broad variety of people to attend. As graduate students at UCSC and Northeastern, we have chosen to hold this event at an institution we do not attend in order that the widest scope of attendees might participate. We will be holding the event at UC Berkeley with each day’s meetings starting at 60 Evans Hall and breaking out into smaller sessions in Dwinelle.
While we do not wish to determine the program of the conference ahead of time, we will be inviting guests who might be best equipped to think through some of these problems from their diverse points of view. We will be reaching out to Peter Norvig, head of research at Google, who has mentioned many times publicly that he thinks his company has much to learn from people holding Ph.D’s. We will invite representatives from Coursera, Khan Academy and UCSC’s humanities centers, SF MOMA and Yerba Buena, and Cal Humanities directors. We hope to have those already working in alternative academic careers run workshops on translating skillsets. We will advertise a CV to resume workshop and encourage attendees to bring these documents to the event for hands-on revisions.

In your registration, please make sure to let us know what kinds of things you would like to think through, what kinds of workshops, sessions, discussions you would like to have so that we might begin to ask people to facilitate sessions if necessary.We look forward to meeting you all!

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About jessica beard

Jessica Beard is a 6th year doctoral candidate in Literature at UCSC. She is currently writing a dissertation on the complicated Emily Dickinson archive that will include a final chapter proposing and creating a digital edition of a small grouping of her poems. She co-organizes the Poetry and Politics research cluster at UCSC which brings contemporary poets and scholars together for reading groups, poetry readings, conferences and workshops. When she is not listening to records in her room or writing her dissertation in San Francisco, she waits for baseball season to start and teaches creative writing, composition and literature courses at UCSC.

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