Virtual Event: Leonard Cassuto and Robert Weisbuch
The New PhD:
How to Build a Better Graduate Education
in conversation with JAMES M. VAN WYCK
January 29, 2021
Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Free - $3 contribution suggested at registration
Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes LEONARD CASSUTO—professor of English at Fordham University and monthly columnist at The Chronicle of Higher Education—and educational consultant ROBERT WEISBUCH for a discussion of their co-authored book, The New PhD: How to Build a Better Graduate Education. They will be joined in conversation by JAMES M. VAN WYCK, Assistant Dean for Professional Development at Princeton University.
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About The New PhD
For too many students, today's PhD is a bridge to nowhere. Imagine an entering cohort of eight doctoral students. By current statistics, four of the eight—50%!—will not complete the degree. Of the other four, two will never secure full-time academic positions. The remaining pair will find full-time teaching jobs, likely at teaching-intensive institutions. And maybe, just maybe, one of them will garner a position at a research university like the one where those eight students began graduate school. But all eight members of that original group will be trained according to the needs of that single one of them who might snag a job at a research university. Graduate school has been preparing students for jobs that don't exist—and preparing them to want those jobs above all others.
In The New PhD, Leonard Cassuto and Robert Weisbuch argue that universities need to ready graduate students for the jobs they will get, not just the academic ones. Connecting scholarly training to the vast array of career options open to graduates requires a PhD that looks outside the walls of the university, not one that turns inward—a PhD that doesn't narrow student minds but unlocks and broadens them practically as well as intellectually. Cassuto and Weisbuch document the growing movement for a student-centered, career-diverse graduate education, and they highlight some of the most promising innovations that are taking place on campuses right now. They also review for the first time the myriad national reform efforts, sponsored by major players like Carnegie and Mellon, that took place between 1990 and 2010, look at why these attempts failed, and ask how we can do better this time around.
A more humane and socially dynamic PhD experience, the authors assert, is possible. This new PhD reconceives of graduate education as a public good, not a hermetically sealed cloister—and it won't happen by itself. Throughout the book, Cassuto and Weisbuch offer specific examples of how graduate programs can work to:
• reduce the time it takes students to earn a degree;
• expand career opportunities after graduation;
• encourage public scholarship;
• create coherent curricula and rethink the dissertation;
• attract a truly representative student cohort; and
• provide the resources—financial, cultural, and emotional—that students need to successfully complete the program.
The New PhD is a toolbox for practical change that will teach readers how to achieve consensus on goals, garner support, and turn talk to action. Speaking to all stakeholders in graduate education—faculty, administrators, and students—it promises that graduates can become change agents throughout our world. By fixing the PhD, we can benefit the entire educational system and the life of our society along with it.
Praise for The New PhD
"Cassuto and Weisbuch remind us that all reform efforts have histories, including the one to reform US doctoral education. The New PhD recounts that history and presents a challenging set of options for the future. This book is a must read, one to be argued with, embraced, refined, but not ignored." —Earl Lewis, Professor / Founding Director of the Center for Social Solutions, University of Michigan
"Cassuto and Weisbuch's pointed, innovated analysis and tool box are much needed today. A true reform of graduate curricula has been long overdue. Generations to come will demand universities make changes now, and will hold us accountable if we do not." —G. Gabrielle Starr, President, Pomona College
"I found this book impossible to stop reading! It is terrific, full of ideas both practical and visionary. Buoyed by years of experience in the academy, Cassuto and Weisbuch design a doctoral education for the twenty-first century starting from the fundamental value of knowledge as a public good. Our students deserve an education that brings out the best of their talents, and this book lays out how to do it." —Joy Connolly, President, American Council of Learned Societies
Harvard Book Store's Friday Forum series takes place on Friday afternoons during the academic year as a way to highlight scholarly books in a wide range of fields, with a particular focus on local scholars.
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