ACLS convened its second annual Public Fellows Seminar in Philadelphia, PA on September 18-20, 2014. The seminar, which each year brings together the new cohort of ACLS Public Fellows, focuses on facilitating the fellows’ transition from academia to a non-academic career path and helps forge a network of professionals at similar stages in their careers.
Launched by ACLS in 2010 with the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Public Fellows program places recent humanities PhDs in two-year staff positions at non-profit organizations and government agencies where they participate full-time in the substantive work of their host organizations. By partnering with a diverse roster of institutional partners each year—from the State Department to Oxfam America to the Nature Conservancy—the program promotes career diversity among humanities PhDs and demonstrates to academic and non-academic audiences alike that doctoral education in the humanities has broad public utility.
ACLS developed the Public Fellows Seminar in 2013 to provide fellows a forum to discuss their career paths in a collaborative environment and to identify professional development opportunities that will help them reach their goals. In Philadelphia, fellows also participated in sessions that pushed them to reflect on what components of their “academic toolkits” are most useful in their new roles and taught them techniques and strategies for networking within their new domains. In addition, ACLS staff encouraged fellows to consider how they might exemplify the wide applicability of doctoral education to many lines of endeavor by presenting their own experiences to their academic departments and scholarly associations.
The seminar culminated with a panel discussion with fellows from earlier cohorts, which this year featured Lindsay Green-Barber F'13 and Nicole Wilson F'12. Green-Barber, who is completing her fellowship at the Center for Investigative Reporting, and Wilson, who transitioned this year from her fellowship to a permanent position at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, shared their personal experiences as fellows as well as tips for making the most of the fellowship experience.
“Each year, the Public Fellows program selects a cohort of talented PhDs who will go on to pursue a broad range of career paths beyond academia,” said John Paul Christy, director of public programs at ACLS. “This gathering is an early opportunity for the fellows to take advantage of the shared enthusiasm and insights of their cohort, and to draw on the experiences of a growing network of current and former fellows who will serve as resources to one another in their new careers.”