The University of Colorado at Boulder is revamping doctoral studies in languages and literature, it announced Tuesday. The change -- in an effort to recruit top talent -- entails restructuring support for six Ph.D. programs into a new Consortium of Doctoral Studies in Literature and Cultures. Programs involved are those in French/Italian, Spanish/Portuguese, German, classics, English and Japanese/Chinese. Accepted consortium students will be guaranteed five years of funding, with the first and fifth years including cost-of-living stipends and zero teaching obligations. Middle years carry a reduced teaching load and a summer stipend.
“With a fifth year dedicated to writing their dissertations, less teaching in the intervening years and support during the summers, students will be able to complete their degrees and enter the job market much earlier than they are able to do now,” Helmut Muller-Sievers, director of Boulder’s Center for Humanities and the Arts, said in a statement. Students also will be encouraged to choose mentors from outside their departments, emphasizing a more cross-disciplinary approach, according to information from the university.
Proponents of the consortium also stressed its inclusion of English, classics and Asian literatures. “Often, universities try to streamline their literature offerings into a generic program in modern European languages, or such,” said Muller-Sievers. “Having Chinese and Japanese in the mix gives students an understanding of non-European traditions and cultures. Also, the inclusion of classics -- of ancient Greek, Latin and classical archaeology -- deepens our students’ understanding of our literary heritage, as well as of the materiality of texts and artifacts. The presence of English gives students access to faculty who are working on today’s most hotly debated topics.”
The Modern Language Association suggested in a 2014 report that humanities graduate programs do what they can to cut time to degree to five years. Stanford University already has moved forward with the idea.
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