The Responsive Ph.D.
Beginning in the 1990s, national studies and projects conducted from varying perspectives identified a mismatch between the kinds of training Ph.D.s receive in graduate school and the careers available to them. Building on the consensus emerging from these efforts, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation launched the Responsive Ph.D. initiative in 2000 in order to sharpen these findings into recommendations for change and to foster models for innovation that will provide a richer purpose and a richer population for doctoral education.
Conclusion of Program
The Woodrow Wilson Board of Trustees concluded at its February 2006 meeting that the Responsive Ph.D. initiative has successfully achieved its objectives and that it is time for the Foundation to celebrate its accomplishments and draw the program to a close.
The landscape of doctoral education has changed substantially for the better over recent years, and participants in the Responsive Ph.D. played an important role in securing that progress. The central themes of the Responsive Ph.D. are much more broadly accepted than they were during the decade prior to the initiative:
- A wide range and growing number of doctoral programs are engaged productively with the world outside academia—through public scholarship, partnerships with K-12 school systems, and advisory councils that bring together alumni and potential employers outside academe—to name a few.
- Despite a changing national policy environment, there is continuing interest among many universities and educational organizations in promoting diversity in graduate programs and higher education as a whole. Woodrow Wilson continues to be contacted by a range of institutions seeking suggestions about how to pursue this issue.
- There is broader and deeper utilization of assessment tools, greater transparency in sharing the results of such work, and a growing willingness to consider ways that connect educational outcomes to resources.
- Media outlets are paying increased attention to some of the key themes addressed by the Responsive Ph.D., thereby supporting those engaged in doctoral reform, creating new constituencies, and increasing pressures for change.
The lessons learned and major accomplishments of the Responsive Ph.D. are presented in the initiative’s recent publications, Diversity and the Ph.D. and The Responsive Ph.D.: Innovations in U.S. Doctoral Education. Additional information can be found in the report on the Responsive Ph.D. conference, "Retrospective, Prospective."
Although Woodrow Wilson has concluded its active engagement with the Responsive Ph.D., the Foundation continues to encourage activities begun by the initiative, including the National Graduate Student Leadership Conference and the China Scholarship Conference.