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Versatile Humanists at Duke: Four Reasons to Read the Final Report to the NEH

A couple of years ago, I was part of a recruitment panel for the History department, at which I provided overwhelmed prospective first-years a fairly detailed description of the history and structure of Versatile Humanists at Duke.

A graphic of many images of people smiling

After the panel session, one of the current grad students pulled me aside, and offered me a valuable reminder. “They don’t care where Versatile Humanists is from, or how it’s run,” she said, rather sternly. “They just care that it’s here.”

I’m mindful of this tip, as I invite you to read the final NEH NextGen PhD report for Versatile Humanists at Duke, which sums up three years’ worth of grant-funded activities and outcomes in support of Duke humanities doctoral students. Of the things that were established through the grant, the four with which you are likely most familiar are: 1) The Story+ summer program; 2) The VH@Duke internship program; 3) VH@Duke advising and/or coaching; 4) The VH@Duke newsletter and blog.

Even if you’ve benefitted from all four of these resources in your time at Duke, do you really want to know how the NEH sausage was made? You just might. Here are four reasons why you might read the report.

Reason 1: You’ve known about the advising resource for a while, but haven’t reached out.

You may be unsure of what it’s for, or whether it would be worth your time, and/or whether it would help you achieve your goals. This report contains every piece of data we have on humanities PhD student advising (without compromising student confidentiality). You can see what departments advisees hail from, what they’re coming to talk to me about, and even what they’re saying about it afterwards (in the Appendix).

Reason 2: You’re interested in getting involved in collaborative research, or doing an internship to complement your research and/or career discernment.

You may, on occasion, have heard about a friend or peer who has held a VH@Duke internship. This report offers you a complete picture of all twenty-eight NEH-funded Duke PhD student internships: where people worked, which ones were self-created, and what interns took from the experience. Similarly, you can learn all about what graduate student Story+ mentors have worked on thus far, and how the experience complimented their doctoral training.

Reason 3: You might be in the report.

Although we take issues of student confidentiality very strictly, we also like to brag when you do cool things. This report showcases VH@Duke student interns and Story+ mentors. It has nice photos. You might even want to send it to your parents.

Reason 4: You plan to remain in academia as either a faculty member or professional staff, you’d like to learn more about How Things Work.

Take my word for it: Running VH@Duke has been an amazing experience, but I didn’t learn how to do any of this in graduate school. Building cross-disciplinary programs at the university level requires expertise and skill, and it can start with reading reports like this one.

And did I mention that it goes well with a glass of eggnog? Happy Holidays to all!

Originally posted on the Versatile Humanists at Duke website