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.