Each day of my hands-on academic experience begins off the bus in Lake Cowichan, British Columbia, surrounded by mountain slopes crisscrossed by 100 years of clear cuts. Declining industrialization and factory closures decimated the economy of this city, and every third store in the city center has closed windows. This particular morning, I arrived at my workplace—a small museum and archive dedicated to the Forest Workers Union, the Katza Station Museum and Archives—to be greeted by a veteran recorder eager to discuss his history recently written in the series—and witnessed the innovations in the area.
I was hired as an archivist by the Museum to arrange and describe a huge collection of records belonging to the IWA-Canada National Forest Federation. The bulk of my job involves ensuring that these bank boxes of records are stored securely, arranged according to archiving principles and made available to researchers through the use of a find utility. However, on some days, I may be interviewing seasoned forest workers regarding their careers in the industry, and on others, I may be in Zoom meeting with members of the local First Nation as we look to update the Museum’s old colonial settlement offerings. .
What brought me here, to my place as a trusted guardian of the history of the rural forestry industry, a year ago, when I lived in urban areas, hugged the trees of my Ph.D. Student researching environmental history? The answer lies in the University of British Columbia’s Cooperative Doctorate of Arts Program, an elective program that provides training, mentoring, and institutional support for a Ph.D. Students wishing to apply their skills and experience in pursuits outside of post-secondary institutions. This level of mentorship, in addition to salary, distinguishes co-op from traditional internships (which are not usually built into a student’s degree), and ultimately provides participants with skill growth and financial stability.
Indeed, the collaboration is a model that can facilitate an innovative and cross-cutting humanities scholarship in general, while providing graduate students with a wide range of career paths to pursue after completing their degrees. While internships are usually short-term work placements without direct connection to students’ academic interests, collaborative positions are intertwined with the thesis writing process and enable graduate students to combine traditional and non-traditional forms of academic work.
That’s a PhD in humanities. – Higher education and post-secondary education as a whole – are currently in crisis and may not be news to readers Within higher education. In the process of soul-crushing, recent PhD holders face increasingly long prospects for obtaining a research or teaching position at an academic institution. Add to this the fact that a traditional Ph.D. only provides specific training for the very jobs that seem to be in short supply, and a Ph.D. often ends up feeling completely unprepared to work outside the academy. Meanwhile, universities continue to increase their tuition fees, even in the midst of a pandemic, exacerbating the financial burden on PhDs and intensifying the inequalities that underpin post-secondary education in North America.
But Ph.D. In the arts or humanities can and Do Building the required skills outside the academy. PhD in Arts. The collaborative position takes advantage of the student’s existing skills – whether in grant writing, community organizing or public engagement – and enables them to practice looking at what they can do through different frameworks, in different contexts. And if at the same time we can complicate our research by incorporating community engagement or bi-directional general humanities scholarship, all the better. On our campus, we are trained to write, organize, analyze and educate. Putting these skills off campus is simply a matter of framing and communicating with relevant stakeholders.
He tells that there are no jobs – or no jobs Requires A Ph.D. Negating the experiences of those who have moved into a non-academic field and still continue to contribute to knowledge and analyzes of heritage, cultural production and history. Just because people in alternative roles may not publish in peer-reviewed journals does not negate the value of their applied work and the general humanities.
Most problematic, though, is the No Jobs narrative implying that knowledge production can only come from the academy, marginalizing non-scientific forms of experience—from practitioners and holders of TK to those with live experience and expertise. There is no reason why humanities research should not involve the expertise of non-scientists. Participation in the co-op has helped me understand that true public scholarship is two-way and involves building real relationships with other people who possess and are creators of knowledge – not just treating them as transient sources of information.
In my eight months of collaborative work terms, not only have I learned more about being a general historian than I’ve learned in nearly a decade of graduate school, but I’ve also discovered that doing such work changes my dissertation research. While studying various perspectives on the history of environmental protection and forest protests in the region, by working in and with these communities, I have achieved a position as a trusted insider, giving me an unparalleled level of access. As such, my PhD in arts. The terms of collaborative work at the Katza Station Museum and Archives mean that I can write chapters of my dissertation from the perspective of communities I wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
I don’t stop being a PhD in history. Student when I talk to the ex-recorder about developing a chain saw, even though I’m around the clock at work while I talk. It’s time to stop framing professional conversations as separate from the work we do as researchers. Work is work. Co-op is a model that provides significant benefits to a Ph.D. – At least for me. It has given me the financial security and intellectual space I need to develop the relationships that enhance my work as a historian. It also opened up unexpected and fulfilling options for me and my post-doctoral life.