Humanities PhDs: Write if you find work

, Malcolm A. Kline, 1 Comment

You might be surprised to learn that there are employment opportunities for college graduates with PhDs in the Humanities. You might not be surprised to find out that they are usually with left-wing cause groups. “The ACLS [American Council of Learned Societies] has placed over one hundred recent humanities PhDs in two-year positions with government and nonprofit hosts,” the Modern Language Association (MLA) convention guide informs us.

At the MLA’s annual convention in Philadelphia last week, John Paul Christy of the ACLS told us where some of them went:

  • The Union of Concerned Scientists;
  • The Nature Conservancy;
  • Amnesty International;
  • The American Civil Liberties Union; and
  • The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

Christy noted, as his audience knew acutely, that there are more PhDs than available positions in classrooms. As you might imagine, job candidates who come with these credentials are a bit of an awkward fit, even in offices sympathetic to their life experiences.

“Most PhDs can’t write,” Fuzz Hogan of New America said at the MLA panel on Careers beyond the Professoriat for Humanities PhDs. “They can’t tell stories.” Hogan spent 20 years at CNN.

Nevertheless, they do have a skill set, although it may be a rather esoteric one. “The ability to run a meeting is something PhDs have,” Alison Cuddy of the Chicago Humanities Festival said at this MLA panel.