U-M History prioritizes academic excellence, encourages a team-based approach to graduate training, and maintains a strong commitment to pedagogy. Our career diversity initiative adapts U-M History’s pedagogical skills training model to help students develop expertise that will be valuable in any career context.
Traditional doctoral training in history has long been organized around research as a solo endeavor. While individual research, personal visits to the archive, and singular primary source analysis will always be a core part of historical methodology, many historians have increasingly turned to team-based research efforts. Both inside and outside the academy, historians work in interdisciplinary spaces, partnering with experts from other fields in collaborative enterprises in public policy, think tanks, and non-profits. Moreover, to meet the increasing demand for historical scholarship, historians must practice communicating to new and often public audiences. Our curriculum reflects a growing capacity to train PhDs for success in collaborative enterprises and publicly engaged research.
Graduate students can pursue career diversity training in the History 717 seminar and other seminars with career diversified assignments.
History 717: U-M HistoryLabs
History 717 is the curricular designation of the department’s U-M HistoryLab for graduate students. The course trains students in collaborative research skills beyond the traditional “lone scholar” model. As team members, History 717 students practice the craft of conducting research, synthesizing historiography, articulating scholarly debates, analyzing primary sources, drafting written communications, and developing verbal presentations. Student teams work with humanities organizations, often a museum, library, or archival partner that serves as a client.
In winter 2019 History 717 students worked with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to develop collections for its for the museum’s Experiencing History: Holocaust Sources in Context online project. Read more about this endeavor in articles on the class’s initial meetings, its trip to Washington, DC, and an LSA Magazine feature on the department's U-M HistoryLabs initiative.
Career Diversified Seminars
The department’s existing curriculum can be tweaked to support career diversity. Faculty members can introduce assignments that offer opportunities for graduate students to practice what the American Historical Association calls the “five career diversity skills”—communication, collaboration, quantitative literacy, digital literacy, and intellectual self-confidence—thus transforming a seminar into a career diversity opportunity.
Most seminars culminate in a historiography or research paper written for one set of eyes at a specific moment in time: the instructor of record on the last day of class. Career diversity assignments expand the lifespan of the products and reach broader audiences. A historiography paper could become a memo; an argumentative paper could become an op-ed; original research could be presented as a ten-minute presentation. These assignments need not replace culminating projects, but can be assigned along the way over the course of an entire semester.
Resources for faculty looking to support career diversity in their graduate teaching:
- Digital Pedagogy Blog
- Career Diversity Assignments Guide (coming soon!)