March 24, 2013

Article: The Expansion of Slavic Studies


The expansion of Slavic studies
Slavic PhD programs in the US are seeing an increase in applicant quality and quantity, but the job market presents new challenges
by Gabriella Safran
March 20, 2013

Many are well aware that a conversation about the career paths of graduate students in the humanities has been taking place in the US academy. It’s true that even while we in the Slavic Department at Stanford have always been very proud of our placement rate – the majority of our students have gone on to excellent teaching jobs – we see that the economy is changing. A number of professions that used to have the ability to absorb a lot of educated workers, and used to be reliable sources of high salaries and good benefits are not this way anymore. And along with other professions, we are seeing a shift in teaching at all levels, from elementary school to higher education. It used to be the case that most higher education instruction was done by tenure-track faculty who had middle-class salaries, benefits, and lifelong employment. Now, universities are shifting away from that model and increasingly employing contingent faculty. So it is more and more likely that our college students will be taught by someone with a lower salary and possibly fewer or no benefits. This cannot but affect our graduate students, not just in Slavic, of course, but in all fields. We used to feel that our best graduate students would get teaching jobs, and those jobs would be middle-class jobs. We can’t be sure about that anymore.

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