February 26, 2010 - The National Humanities Alliance has submitted a proposal to Congress requesting $60 million to stimulate new teaching positions at postsecondary institutions for recent doctoral degree recipients entering the academic workforce. The request responds to new data on worsening employment prospects for new doctoral degree recipients in the humanities, and shortages of teaching faculty reported at colleges and universities around the country.
With new humanities PhDs facing a devastating 25% annual projected shortfall in academic job openings, the proposal calls for significant, immediate intervention to:
- address a growing shortage of undergraduate teaching faculty in the humanities
- renew federal investment in liberal arts education
- preserve investment in talented young scholars as teachers and researchers
At the level of funding proposed, at least 200, two-year fellowships could be awarded per year (beginning 2010), generating 400 temporary, two-year faculty positions over a three-year period (800 FTEs). These positions would help mitigate what the Alliance estimates will be a shortage of at least 1000 jobs per year for new humanities PhDs entering the academic workforce over the next 2-3 years.
The severity of the present jobs crisis threatens to deprive the nation of the talents of what many worry will become a "lost generation" of scholars and educators. A sudden economic change can permanently close the short window during which young scholars can gain a foothold in the profession they have worked hard to join, and in which significant public and private investment has already been made. Modeled on the ACLS New Faculty Fellows initiative launched in 2009, the proposed program would serve as a bridge to permanent employment for recent PhD recipients, and encourage retention of higher faculty levels at the host institution for the long run.
With current policy encouraging an ever-widening gap in federal investment between the sciences and the humanities, the Alliance points to a long-turn realignment of resources in the nation's K-12 and postsecondary institutions as a possible, lasting consequence of the economic downturn. The proposal calls for parallel federal and institutional investment for the humanities to ensure the nation's continued capacity to support a rigorous system of liberal arts education for its citizens.