#Alt-Academy – a Media Commons project takes a grass-roots, bottom-up, publish-then-filter approach to community-building and networked scholarly communication around the theme of unconventional or alternative careers for people with academic training.
The #alt-academy project features contributions by and for people with deep training and experience in the humanities, who are working or are seeking employment — generally off the tenure track, but within the academic orbit — in universities and colleges, or allied knowledge and cultural heritage institutions such as museums, libraries, academic presses, historical societies, and governmental humanities organizations. Read more here.
Ernesto Priego: This may seem obvious to you or to others who are deeply involved in current discourses around higher education, but would you mind explaining what are the main obstacles that those without tenure-track jobs (either by choice or not) face, and how do you see an online platform like #Alt-Academy challenging and offering alternative ways to established academic career paths?
Bethany Nowviskie: Well, it’s no surprise that most books and websites addressed to PhD students and scholars seeking jobs outside of the normative, tenure-track professorship stream have been cast as resources about “non-academic” careers. Social and institutional challenges face people who stay in or around the academy, but outside what has come to be seen as the single path to success and self-worth for humanities PhDs. A major one is the base assumption that you’re not doing academic or scholarly work if you’re not employed as a full-time teaching and research faculty member. Others relate to the job security and intellectual freedom that tenure is commonly accepted to provide — although several essays in the #Alt-Academy collection question that assumption
From Inside Higher ED July 2011 interview with #alt-academy coordinating editor Bethany Nowviskie, President of the ACH, Director of Digital Research & Scholarship (including the Scholars’ Lab) at the University of Virginia Library and Associate Director of the Scholarly Communication Institute