The Postdoctoral Partnership Initiative (PPI) is a new, exploratory program designed to provide insight into the impact of postdoctoral fellowships on humanities scholars’ careers and the value of such postdocs to the institutions that host them. PPI, made possible by the generous assistance of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, also seeks to foster cross-institutional conversation about the role of these positions in the changing humanities professoriate.
ACLS has become more familiar with postdoctoral fellowships since 2008, when we launched the New Faculty Fellows program. The program partnered with select universities to create postdoctoral fellowships for newly minted PhDs in the humanities and related social sciences who were trying to begin their careers in the inhospitable job market after the financial crisis. Through this program we came to understand some of the elements that are important in helping postdoctoral fellows launch academic careers, such as faculty mentoring and ample time and financial support for research. At the same time, a growing number of humanities PhDs are now holding postdoctoral fellowships after graduation, which means that humanities postdocs are playing an increasingly larger role in academic employment.
PPI will enable ACLS to understand the postdoctoral landscape more fully. ACLS will conduct a research and assessment project to map the humanities postdoc landscape and evaluate the components of postdoctoral fellowships from the perspectives of individuals, institutions, and academia more generally. In addition, ACLS issued an open call for proposals in summer 2015, inviting US institutions of higher education to partner with us to offer an additional postdoctoral fellowship position and/or raise the level of support offered with existing positions for the 2015-16 competition cycle (for tenure to begin in 2016-17). Partnering universities will share information on their postdoc programs and post-fellowship career outcomes and participate in a larger conversation about the evolving nature of academic employment.
The ten institutional partners are: