#61: Scott St. Louis on the Public Humanities and Sharing Knowledge

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Today, we hear from Scott St. Louis not so much about the Common Ground Initiative itself, or about the Hauenstein Center. Instead, we hear from Scott about his decision, at least right now it’s his decision, not to work exclusively down the traditional career path of a tenure-track professor in the humanities--more specifically, down the path of a professor of history. It’s a significant decision to Scott because, for a long time, that’s precisely what he wanted to do: earn a tenure-track professorship in conventional fashion. But the academic job market for folks in the humanities, history or otherwise, isn’t right now, well, even a market. There are so few jobs; the jobs that do exist are generally adjunct professorships, which are contingent, pay very little, offer pretty much no benefits. There are so many terrific PhDs on the market who are forced to take these jobs. And there are just as many graduate students working right now who are facing the reality that, when they try to enter the academic job market, there might be even fewer positions available, and fewer prospects for doing any kind of fulfilling work in or around the academy. I wanted to talk with Scott to learn how his plans, his ambitions, have changed. I wanted to ask about the future he imagines for himself and strives for as a devoted historian. If the conventional path down the tenure track isn’t necessarily viable, what’s next for him? What’s next for any students of the humanities like him?

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