Proposal: #alt-ac Support Group

Despite the current state of unrest and uncertainty surrounding tenure and promotion, there still remains much to be desired about traditional faculty appointments and the status and perks that they provide: more regular opportunities to teach, travel and research funds, writing sabbaticals, improved benefits, etc.  Nevertheless, many of us attending THATCamp are in positions at our respective institutions that are involved in many arenas close to traditional faculty and are involved in programmatic or institutional endeavors that can have a great impact on the course of study for students and research for faculty. In a great blog post, Bethany Nowviskie talks about the challenges, but also value, of this #alt-ac  lifestyle and the possibilities it holds for post-doctoral humanitsts who either outside looking in on faculty positions or have chose to eschew those positions completely. Some people like this #alt-ac position and look at that as a long-term home, some see it as a stepping stone to a faculty position, while others may hope to find a hybrid solution that allows them to keep a foot in both worlds.

But, as Bethany pointed out, “Keeping our talents within (or around) the academy is often more psychologically difficult than examining the color of our parachutes and gliding off to fabulous private-sector careers. Class divisions among faculty and staff in the academy are profound, and the suspicion and (worse) condescension with which “failed academics” are sometimes met can be disheartening.” This session would open a discussion about the challenges that arise from entering into and embracing #alt-ac and hopefully provide people with roadmaps, strategies, and resources to this relatively uncharted territory.  I would encourage people from all walks of academic life to attend including those people who have found comfort in those #alt-ac positions, those who are looking at #alt-ac as a step on the way to a faculty position, those who have faculty positions and deal regularly with #alt-ac colleagues, and those who may be #alt-ac and not even know it.


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  1. lcc.gatech.edu/~rwhitson3/wordpress

    Love this idea! We had an #alt-ac panel at THATCamp_SE, and I found it extremely useful. I’d love to come to this session.

  2. Alex Gil

    Yes. You can count me in for this panel. I am also interested in talking about the ways in which the future of scholarship itself can be determined by the fate of alt-acs in the near future.

  3. Jennifer Sano-Franchini

    I am also interested in this panel–I probably know much less about alt-ac than I should. Also, the topic Alex Gil brought up about the implications of alt-ac on scholarship sounds interesting.

  4. cybernetickinkwell.com

    One of the best parts about the #alt-ac “movement” is that its parameters are largely defined by its practitioners (not unlike the larger DH community, at that). That being said, I go back and forth about whether librarianship (as traditionally defined) is an #alt-ac field–I sometimes end up calling it “peri-ac,” because for some librarians it’s been about being near or a part of an academic community without being viewed as “alternate to.”

    That’s a long way of saying: heck yeah, let’s talk about #alt-ac and how to set about being #alt-ac! Alex makes a great point, too, about the need to explore how alt-ac itself will shape scholarship–both in terms of questions asked and in terms of sharing credit in collaborative project settings.

  5. Cathy Saunders

    As an academic who is fairly “traditional” in some ways (I have a full-time job teaching at the college level) but “alternate” in the sense that I’m not on the tenure track, I’m definitely interested in this panel (and in the ways the experiences of contingent faculty are both like and unlike those of PhDs who’ve chosen non-teaching but still “academic” jobs).

  6. miriamposner.com

    Awesome idea! I’m in.

  7. Brian Croxall

    I love me some #alt-ac. Without trying to undermine the direction that this session might take, I’m going to advocate for coming up with something concrete by the end of it, perhaps akin to the Collaborators’ Bill of Rights that we can share with the larger community.

  8. Brian Croxall

    And…if I had just gone on to read Miriam’s session proposal, I would have seen that she already said much the same thing that I had said. As is the way with Miriam and I, however, I have said it far less eloquently than she did.

    The score: Miriam 89 – Brian 3.

  9. miriamposner.com

    Damn right, Croxall.

  1. #alt-ac with a research agenda: what that means, what we want, how to get it | THATCamp CHNM 2011

    […] Kimon pointed out, a lot of us DH-ers are “alternate academics”: we’re trained as academics and are […]

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