Rethinking graduate education to access greater career opportunities

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Jeudi 14 avril 2016

By Veronica Vincent

As part of the Congress 2016 exciting line-up of events, the University of Calgary will host six Interdisciplinary symposia to exhibit the university’s most compelling and leading-edge thinking and research. This article is part of a six-part series showcasing each event, all of which are open to Congress attendees and the general public.

The University of Calgary’s Faculty of Graduate Studies has taken bold steps over the past few years to enrich the graduate student experience and has made new headway in preparing students for work, not just in academic professions, but also for the private and public sectors.

On May 31, 2016, the Faculty will host an Interdisciplinary symposium called Mobilizing Graduate Students for Diverse Careers. The symposium will gather leading scholars in graduate education who will engage participants to consider new ways of thinking about research in the humanities, and the many different career possibilities that are available to graduate students.

We interviewed Lisa Hughes who is the Associate Dean (Policy) with the Faculty of Graduate Studies and one of the key organizers, to learn more about the symposium.

Q: What are some key issues around graduate education in the Humanities and Social Sciences?

These graduate students often go on to pursue diverse careers in both the private and public sectors. In many disciplines, academic careers have become the exception rather than the norm. With this event, we want to provide the opportunity for graduate students and faculty alike to hear about the various opportunities for innovative and creative PhD research that will prepare students for careers outside of academia.

Q: Who are some of the key speakers?

Dr. Inger Mewburn will provide the keynote address to open the event. She has specialized in research education since 2006 and is currently the Director of Research Training at The Australian National University where she oversees all the research training activities and conducts research on student experience to inform practice. Dr. Mewburn is better known as The Thesis Whisperer (@thethesiswhiperer), a blog that is dedicated to helping research students everywhere.

Dr. Paul Yachnin, Director, Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas (IPLAI), McGill University will open the afternoon session titled, Integrating PhDs Outside of the Academy. Dr. Yachnin is the Principal Investigator for the TRaCE Project, which was developed as the next phase to the Future Humanities: Transforming Graduate Studies for the Future of Canada. The goal of the TRaCE Project is to change the picture of the humanities and to shift the understanding of what the discipline actually contributes to Canadian society by tracking the careers of PhDs who do not end up in academic jobs.

Q: This symposium will also have a number of interactive presentations. Can you describe what these will be about?

Part of rethinking graduate education and research also involves rethinking the dissertation. We invited five outstanding new scholars to share their innovative dissertation forms. These new forms include the Experiential Dissertation, the Public Scholarship Dissertation, the Community Engaged Dissertation, the Graphic Dissertation and the Novel Dissertation. Each scholar will speak about their reasons for selecting their chosen format and how their research is being received.

Q: Who should attend the symposium?

All directors of graduate programs, faculty members, graduate students and others who are seeking innovative approaches to graduate education and integrating preparation for diverse careers into graduate programming in the humanities and social sciences.

Q: What are the benefits of attending?

Not only will graduate students and faculty be given the chance to hear about the varied and innovative approaches taken, they will also have the opportunity to raise directed questions to our speakers in the breakout sessions about taking such paths in their own research and careers.

For more information about Congress 2016, running May 28 to June 3, 2016 hosted by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the University of Calgary, please visit


Photo caption: Lisa Hughes, Associate Dean (Policy) with the Faculty of Graduate Studies and one of the key organizers. Photo courtesy of: Lisa Hughes


Congress of the Humanities and Social SciencesCongress 2016