Departmental Retreats to Re-Imagine the Doctoral Curriculum

"reorienting doctoral education to a student-centered educational environment ... requires rethinking the core doctoral curriculum" – AAU PhD Education Initiative

The following is an opportunity for graduate faculty stemming from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, Humanities Engage: Re-Imagining Doctoral Education in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

Curricular reform grounded in broad faculty support is a challenging yet essential element of any Next Gen-effort to re-imagine doctoral training. All DSAS departments with Humanities Ph.D. programs are eligible to apply for funds in support of departmental retreats that will allow for sustained faculty discussion of concrete strategies to implement recommendations made by the curriculum committee of the Dietrich School NEH Planning Grant (2018/19). The transformation of disciplinary training should be student-centered and  pursue integral and transformative, not additive, change grounded in the articulation of program mission. It must focus on the articulation of the profile, behaviors, and capacities of the contemporary humanistic intellectual, scholar-teacher, and leader.

The committee is particularly interested in proposals that

  • draw on integrative approaches piloted by national programs such as AHA Career Diversity
  • explore and implement strategies for embedding the objectives of a re-envisioned doctoral education in existing curricula
  • align academic milestones with broad professional development
  • optimally combine rigorous scholarly training with strategies to enhance students’ ability to articulate and demonstrate the relevance of their skills for diverse professional settings, and develop strategic competencies currently underdeveloped in doctoral training but relevant in professional settings both within and beyond the academy
  • develop portfolio-based comprehensive exams
  • broaden options for the media and formats of Ph.D. capstone projects; empower students to explore the spectrum of possibilities for capstones in their areas of research, considering in addition to the proto- research-monograph the kinds of projects that are already being pursued both locally and nationally, e.g. hybrid theory/practice dissertations; curation; documentary films; video essays as chapters in multi-media dissertations; translation with critical introduction; projects incorporating digital humanities; public-facing scholarship with a metacritique of the experience of community engagement; pedagogical research; program-development components
  • create curricular spaces – and possibly requirements – for public-facing humanistic scholarship, public engagement, and the communication of research to audiences beyond the home discipline and the academy, e.g.: public components of milestones; required seminar on practicing public scholarship; presentation of research/creative activity to general audiences as a graduation requirement
  • relate curricular innovation to broader changes in Humanities scholars’ environment and integrate experimentation and engagement with new media and modes of scholarly production;
  • support graduate faculty in designing and nuancing training for diverse humanities careers and mentoring students toward a broad spectrum of careers


Department chairs are eligible to apply for funds to support necessary expenses related to a proposed retreat. The application should include, in this order, in a single .pdf sent to, the following materials:

  • proposal narrative (3 pages max.): describe retreat objectives and means for achieving those objectives; delineate need for project and how it would lead to significant and sustainable change in graduate training; consider steps preparatory to the retreat geared to maximizing the retreat’s effectiveness
  • draft retreat agenda, with names of key facilitators and any external participants; list of core participants committed to participating in the retreat (faculty; grad representatives; others, e.g. UCTL experts)
  • budget (to be reviewed by fiscal administrator prior to submission); maximum request: $2,500. Eligible items: travel and accommodation of external expert consultants; light refreshment and lunch; materials and supplies; funds cannot be used to pay undergraduate student workers, graduate research assistants, or faculty stipends)
  • plan and timeline for implementation of retreat outcomes; evaluation plan


Applicants might find the following resources helpful:

DSAS, NEH Next Generation Humanities Ph.D. Planning Grant: White Paper (2019)

E. Balleisen and M. Lamonaca Wisdom, Reimagining the Humanities PhD: A Guide for Phd Programs and Faculty (2019), esp. pp. 3-6 ("PhD Program Coursework, the Grad Seminar, and the Humanities Lab)

Please direct questions to the PI, Holger Hoock, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research, at