Woodrow Wilson News & Publications
FOR RELEASE: October 7, 2005
CONTACT: Beverly Sanford, (609) 452-7007 x181
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REPORT FROM WOODROW WILSON CALLS FOR Ph.D. REFORMS
Doctoral education must “open to the world,” promote exchange, engage new populations
PRINCETON, NJ—A report by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation’s Responsive Ph.D. initiative, released today, calls for public scholarship that applies academic expertise to social challenges, vigorous efforts to open the doctorate to new populations, frequent dialogue with alumni of doctoral programs and leaders outside the academy, and clearer professional paths for Ph.D.s both within and beyond research universities.
The Responsive Ph.D.: Innovations in U.S. Doctoral Education, an overview of the initiative’s five years of work with major research universities across the nation, presents findings and recommendations for improvements in doctoral education, based on the experiences of a consortium of partner universities—originally a group of 14, later expanded to 20.
“Despite hundreds of pages of recommendations on 21st-century doctoral education, genuine change has been slow in coming,” said Robert Weisbuch, primary author of the report, president of Drew University, and former president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. “It’s time for a certain degree of impatience. This report presses for transformation—and shows how some leading universities are already making it happen.”
Innovations in U.S. Doctoral Education calls for key changes in the Ph.D.: more robust support for interdisciplinary scholarship; training that prepares Ph.D. candidates to teach in many settings and apply their expertise beyond the academy; better recruitment and retention of doctoral students of color (a theme addressed more fully in the June 2005 companion report, Diversity and the Ph.D.); and dynamic connections between Ph.D. programs and the corporate, government, and nonprofit sectors. Essential to such changes, the report finds, is a more powerful role for graduate deans within the larger university.
“Throughout its 60-year history the Woodrow Wilson Foundation has enlisted great universities as partners in shaping doctoral education,” said Nancy Weiss Malkiel, chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “The original Woodrow Wilson Fellowships not only brought new people to the Ph.D., but helped give the degree a greater weight and breadth. The Responsive Ph.D. is carrying on in that tradition.”
In addition to analysis and recommendations, Innovations in U.S. Doctoral Education also presents 41 innovations in doctoral practices at the 14 founding partner institutions. Examples include a project in which Ph.D. students design and lead workshops in K–12 classrooms; a national interdisciplinary conference run by and for graduate students of color; and a for-credit course that teaches doctoral students to apply their scholarly expertise beyond the university.
Exchanging and adapting each other’s novel approaches was a central emphasis for the Responsive Ph.D.’s participating universities. “Many of us at individual campuses have developed our own programs to address these needs locally,” said Robert Thach, graduate dean at Washington University of St. Louis and one of three members of an advisory group leading the 20-campus consortium. “The Responsive Ph.D. provided the forum to look at and learn from each other’s efforts, and to air some thoughts about next directions.”
The Responsive Ph.D. has been supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Henry Luce Foundation. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provided additional funding for the initiative’s in-depth exploration of doctoral diversity issues.
Innovations in U.S. Doctoral Education is available online at www.woodrow.org. For a hard copy or for more information, call Beverly Sanford at (609) 452-7007 ext. 181, or email email@example.com.
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The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation has its origins in a now-famous fellowship program, begun in 1945, which helped the United States create a great generation of college teachers and intellectual leaders. Today’s Woodrow Wilson continues to cultivate excellence in teaching and learning at every level of education, putting the arts and sciences at the service of democracy.