Academic journal article German Quarterly

Millennial possibilities: Entering the profession at the Jahrtausendwende

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Millennial possibilities: Entering the profession at the Jahrtausendwende

Article excerpt

As an undergraduate German major in the late '80s and early '90s, I was told that employment prospects in post-secondary education would be exceptionally good for my generation of students. When I began a PhD program in 1993, however, it was already becoming apparent that these predictions were not entirely accurate. I heard sobering reports that the number of new PhDs produced outnumbered the number of new vacancies considerably, not to mention the recent PhDs who remained unemployed or in adjunct positions. Either the anticipated retirements were delayed, or existing faculty lines were being eliminated upon the retirement of their holders. Despite the general consensus that employment outlooks were bleak, I resolved to complete the PhD program and to pursue an academic career. There were and still are no guarantees of tenure-track appointments for new PhDs, but I remain confident that graduate students and junior faculty who are sufficiently committed to the profession and receive the necessary training, guidance, and support from their departments and mentors can create a niche for themselves in today's and tomorrow's Germanistik/German Studies. Because I am personally in the transitional phase from graduate student to visiting assistant professor to tenure-track assistant professor, I will share my pragmatic views on some practical measures which I believe might ensure the vitality of a strain of German Studies which can continue to attract and retain students at all levels, and in turn permit a new generation of PhDs to continue in their chosen profession. While a graduate student, I served as

graduate student representative on the departmental Self Study Review Committee. This granted me the opportunity to see our own programs from a variety of different perspectives: those of graduate and undergraduate students in the department, of faculty and administration, and of external reviewers. By participating in a single case study of the past, present, and projected future of a single German program, I gained an understanding of the widely varied and often-competing interests which both departments and individual faculty and students must negotiate in the attempt to ensure the continued integrity and vitality of our profession. The seemingly irreconcilable nature of these competing interests is most apparent in discussions of enrollments. With the advent of responsibility-based (or market-driven) budgeting systems, we frequently hear from above that we are too expensive, that especially graduate courses are under-enrolled. While a simple remedy might be to increase the number of graduate students admitted into German graduate programs, the MLA and others have cautioned that it is unconscionable to produce PhDs far in excess of the number of projected available academic positions. One possible solution to this dilemma would be the development of attractive alternate master's degree programs, for example a combined MBA and German MA, or master's degrees in Education and German. In addition to recruiting degree students in German, graduate programs can increase enrollments by developing courses which attract students from History, Art or Music History, Philosophy, Comparative Studies, Women's Studies, Jewish Studies, etc. While this would necessitate teaching in English translation, additional discussion sections can easily be offered in German for students who need to develop their language skills further. Many graduate schools are also encouraging the development of graduate minors, including interdisciplinary minors. Interdisciplinary minors would serve the dual purpose of increasing enrollments in German graduate courses and promoting collaborative projects (research projects and publications, conferences and symposia) among participating programs in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. Conversely, German graduate students should be encouraged likewise to pursue graduate minors and specializations in related fields. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.