The Humanities Without Walls summer workshop utilizes a fellow-centered approach to assisting humanities PhD students with the development of their careers. Our principles emphasize student agency while giving attendees space to reflect on values. We have learned that centering the needs of each fellow results in empowered PhD professionals ready to tackle the world which await them post-degree. Our sessions intentionally layer foundations for the fellows as they do the real-time work of discerning personal career values, building community within the fellowship cohort, and researching potential career paths. The workshop models effective strategies that enable our fellows to prepare for a successful job search today and for the career transitions which will come in the future.
The very concept of “humanities without walls” commits us to the work of racial and social justice in the context of career diversity programming. Therefore, we work to create sessions which help us grapple with the long history of implicit racial, gender, and class bias so often concealed in the guise of “professionalism.” HWW’s commitment to the values of reciprocity and redistribution allows our fellows an opportunity to thread the work of racial justice and social equity into their developing life and career goals and to think about inclusion by design as part of their work in the world, whatever shape that may take.
Launched in 2015 as an initiative of the HWW consortium, the workshop welcomes participants each summer from higher education institutions across the United States. HWW Summer Workshop Fellows work in a variety of academic disciplines. They are scholars and practitioners who come with experience in community building, museum curation, filmmaking, radio programming, social media, project management, research, writing, and teaching. They are typically invested in the pressing social justice issues of our time and are seeking ways to bring humanistic values, insights, and skills to their work lives, whether in the public and private sector.
In the spirit of practice-oriented learning, HWW has partnered with entities such as IDEO, a design and consulting firm, the Joyce Foundation, and the Canadian Museum of History, amongst others, to lead students in real-world problem-solving exercises around important contemporary issues. Recognizing that each fellow’s skillset has been primarily oriented toward an academic track, the workshop includes sessions on values-based career planning, resume and cover letter construction, networking, and social media strategies from experts in career development.
Graduates from the workshop will emerge with a network of contacts in a range of professional realms; a significantly broadened sense of the career possibilities that await humanities PhDs; a cohort of HWW Summer Workshop Fellows (and friends!) from whom they may draw support and advice; and a set of resources aimed at helping them advance into the various realms considered under the broad rubric of “the public humanities.”