Educating Scholars: Doctoral Education in the Humanities

By Ronald G. Ehrenberg; Harriet Zuckerman et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
Redesigning Doctoral Programs:
Lessons Learned

We have begun to analyze some of the data on our
participating departments and their students
which we are required to compile and forward to
the Foundation as part of the GEI. Those analyses
… have already started to bear fruit…. It has
helped to generate a local interest in self-exami-
nation through sophisticated social research, an
interest that we are currently striving to satisfy.

—Provost at University X, 1993

THIS CHAPTER describes lessons provided by the Graduate Education Initiative (GEI) for future efforts to redesign graduate programs in the humanities. The chapter that follows reviews the study's principal findings. Here we focus on challenges encountered in implementing the GEI and in its assessment, which may beset other efforts to introduce change into this corner of the academy. In some cases these lessons might help those who face challenges in implementing change in other contexts.

The GEI began, as we have noted, with the premise that scholars could be educated more effectively, even in the strongest universities. The Mellon Foundation provided considerable funds over a long period of time to underwrite changes that university administrators and department faculty members considered important, within broad outlines set by the Foundation. Since administrators and department members played a major role in designing the programs that were introduced in each university, the GEI would have seemed uncontroversial. Indeed by some measures it was. Some faculty members remained enthusiasts to the end, and the changes some departments introduced proved exceptionally successful in accomplishing the twin objectives of reorganizing and improving graduate education. However, this was not the case in all departments, nor was it so throughout the 10 years during which the GEI was in place.

Should others decide to introduce GEI-like initiatives, they may wish to pay attention to lessons we drew from overseeing it and assessing its outcomes:

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