Annual Meeting Sneak Peek: Workshops on Attracting Students to the Humanities

We are looking forward to kicking off this year’s NHA Annual Meeting and Humanities Advocacy Day with a deep dive into undergraduate recruitment strategies. We’ll begin by sharing what we learned about recruitment challenges at nearly 300 diverse institutions through our 2019 Humanities Recruitment Survey, as well as the audiences faculty and administrators are engaging with to overcome these challenges. Next, we’ll showcase categories and subcategories of effective approaches surfaced through this research and associated outreachincluding articulating career pathways, curricular innovations, and marketing strategies. Participants will work together to develop strategies after hearing leaders of noteworthy initiatives reflect upon their experiences.

An interactive session on articulating career pathways will showcase distinct approaches of varying scale at diverse institutions, highlighting initiatives that help students identify transferable skills gained through humanities courses, gain valuable humanities work experiences, and reflect upon their professional trajectory. Ascan Koerner and Judy Anderson of the University of Minnesota will describe how the College of Liberal Arts has worked with faculty to implement a pedagogical tool to help more than 10,000 students identify the skills developed through their assignments and practice applying those skills to non-academic contexts. Ana Menendez of Florida International University will introduce The Humanities Edge, a Mellon-funded project which includes a guided internship program that places students who have transferred from the local community college with humanities faculty and cultural institutions. And Helene Meyers of Southwestern University will share how she developed Novel English Majors, a course that combines critical analysis of career guidance books and novels depicting the professional lives of “literary types” with personal reflection, alumni job shadowing experiences, and concrete job market training provided by career services staff.

Our session on curricular innovations will feature initiatives that demonstrate the value of the humanities for addressing important problems, engaging local cultures, and equipping students with broadly valued skills. Jody Enders of the University of California at Santa Barbara will describe how she built a coalition of faculty across several humanities departments to unite, elevate, and strengthen their efforts to equip students with public speaking skills. Ruth Mostern will share efforts to forge connections across disparate areas of study at Pittsburgh University to study human problems related to water in Eurasia in the past, present, and future. And Jason Cohen of Berea College will outline how he is inviting both humanities and STEM majors to engage the history of an important local institution, deepening students’ connection with the local Appalachian culture that most of them hail from. 

And a session on cultivating a marketing mindset will highlight arguments leaders have crafted to promote the value of the humanities to distinct audiences from different institutional roles. Debra Moddelmog of the University of Nevada Reno will share her efforts to engage with employers and community leaders to raise awareness about the professional, civic, and personal value of humanistic study under the banner “elevating humanity.” Sylvester Johnson of Virginia Tech will describe how the Tech for Humanity initiative seeks to reframe accelerating technological advancement as a comprehensive, human-centered issue that demands the analytical and ethical tools of the humanities. Brett Rushforth will highlight several strategies the Department of History at the University of Oregon has used to attract more majors. And Eleanor Shevlin of West Chester University will present a variety of marketing strategies that can be easily integrated into humanities classrooms and departments to attract and retain majors and connect them to successful alumni and exciting professional opportunities. 

Join us in March to learn strategies you can take back to your campus to attract more undergraduates to the humanities!


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