Thursday, January 14, 2010

Expanding the Musicology Ph.D.

Here's a topic for discussion, my fellow blogging or blog-reading musicologists:

What are some ways in which a Ph.D. program in musicology could be adjusted so that a student could potentially find a career outside of academia?

Never fear, I ask not for myself (at least not yet; give me a few more years!) but because over at Tenured Radical, the illustrious Prof. Potter pointed out that her own doctoral experience, in NYU's History Department, produced scholars who "work in film, archives, libraries, labor organizing, museums and administration as well as in full-time tenure track lines." And she goes on to suggest that one way to facilitate this would be to create certificate programs that accompany the Ph.D. in history, in such things as public policy, museum studies, journalism, etc.

So, again: any thoughts on what a musicological equivalent would be? A certificate in music criticism? (Probably not the best field to latch onto!) Arts administration? Critical Rastrum Studies?

I'd be curious to know your thoughts. I (hopefully obviously) don't mean this to say that any of this alone would solve employment issues, or our field's relative invisibility in the public sphere, or our inability to throw a good discipline-wide party. But it seems worth thinking about.


KG said...

I know of a few grad students in various humanities and science fields who also attended other professional schools while writing their dissertations. These included Public Policy and Law. I understand this much more than I get those who get two separate Ph.Ds. When Jonathan Sterne visited UCLA last spring, I asked him how a humanities Ph.D could go into cultural policy. He advised get an MPP in Cultural Policy. They exist! I guess the moral of the story is to petition your institution to allow you to enroll in two programs if you anticipate going in this direction. I would imagine that if my career went in a certain direction, say forensic musicology or music archivist, additional credentials and training would be really useful.
There's a listserv out there for humanities and social science PhDs in search of nonacademic careers called Work For Us.

Bob Judd said...

Just thinking aloud here... I agree w/ KG that the best answer is going to be making it easy to get additional credentials [that already exist]. It seems asking too much to ask institutions to come up with yet more credentialing programs / certificates. If you want to try for a library or archive job, aren't you going to need an MLS? If you want to get a job as a film historian/researcher, isn't your specific CV going to be key [i.e. what research you've done]? If you want to get a job in labor organizing, isn't your organizational ability [as demonstrated in cv] going to be the key? In medicine they have the MD/PhD track for those who want to be ready for both clinical and research; maybe something equivalent for the humanities would be useful.

(Aside, re party: the problem is nothing that a certain quantity of money cannot solve[!]. What academic society has the best "big party"? I'll ask them for a consultation!)

PMG said...

I agree that creating full-fledged certificate programs is a steep step, especially these days. Joint enrollment is a possibility, but it's tough to imagine a lot of people taking that route--having watched people attempt what should be the fairly reasonable goal of doing joint musicology-performance degrees, I know it's no easy task, and at the very least requires one to enter graduate school with that goal in mind, or to realize it soon.

A more intermediate step could be at least an occasional graduate seminar on a pertinent subject, or even a process by which one could earn credit towards the degree through an internship or something.

And of course, the easiest step is to hope that more musicologists who train graduate students retain an open mind about what constitutes success after graduation! Oh wait, that might not be the easiest step...

And Bob, I have a solution for the next big AMS party that only costs $17.21 a pop. One word: Twister.