Discussions about alternative careers are cropping up all over the place.  Two of them crossed my desk recently.

The New England and Maritimes Region of the American Academy of Religion is offering a workshop on alternative academic careers.  I don’t know whether it’s open to non-members, but you could check it out, or find out whether the provider is doing another one that’s more accessible.

I like the imaginative ways the provider describes herself – as an “adjunctpreneur” and an “academic mercenary.”  Not so different from us academic ronin, perhaps. She blogs at (see the “Wider Conversation” sidebar).  Read on for the workshop description.

Meanwhile, the Scholarly Communication Institute at the University of Virginia is just finishing a survey of scholars in alternate academic careers – library work, academic administration, publishing, and the like.  The survey focuses on work in the humanities and social sciences.  It will be interesting to see what they generate.  They run a very interesting website about the “alt-ac” world, and they are compiling a database of people in alt-ac careers.  You’ll find a couple of links in the “Wider Conversation” sidebar.  Below is a description of the survey, FYI.

The workshop:

Envisioning Alternative Academic Careers
Amy Hale, Ph.D.

Monday, October 8, 2012, 10:00am-1:00 pm
Sunday, October 7, 2012, 1:00-4:00pm **FULL**
Boston University
Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies, Room 201
147 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215

How do we sustain ourselves as scholars when most academic jobs are casual and part-time? In 2005, adjuncts made up 57% of the faculty at Harvard and 70% at Boston University. The shift away from tenure-track positions has only continued, creating new financial, social, and emotional challenges for those who entered academia hoping for professorships. This new academic job market demands a creative, entrepreneurial approach to making a living – as well as the willingness to collaborate in maintaining the academy’s mission to serve the public.

This three-hour workshop is designed to help academics in the Humanities and Social Sciences to approach academic work as only one part of a wider picture that potentially integrates a variety of income streams.  Participants will examine their own history and relationships to academia, and become more empowered through discovering marketable skill sets they may not know they possess. We will strategically build sustainable life strategies, considering what activities and relationships bring us real joy and can therefore be maintained in the long term. Finally, we will discuss what scholars can do as a group to support meaningful liberal arts education in a time of economic crisis.

Participants will have the opportunity to:

Reframe the issue of work/life balance in the context of an academic career
Describe their abilities in terms of generalizable skill sets
Consider the role of online teaching in twenty-first-century education
Explore the personal and professional benefits of collaboration
Begin to build a broad-based network that supports scholars individually, while also furthering sustainable alternative and traditional environments for scholarship

Amy Hale has been working as an “adjunctpreneur” for a decade and has built a successful career through combining online teaching in the Humanities, course design, consulting and research. She makes her home in Oakland, CA, where she also enjoys singing barbershop, lifting weights, gardening, dancing, writing and enjoying the company of her husband and two cats.

About the survey (from SCI):

The Scholarly Communication Institute is conducting a survey to analyze alternative academic employment data — a career category now commonly called “alt-ac” — and add to the scanty statistics available for nonprofessorial job placement in general.  The data seeks to address the concerns of two main constituencies: professors and program administrators on one hand, and graduate students themselves on the other. The surveys are limited to the humanities and social sciences.  The Institute is seeking data in three different ways:

Surveying former graduate students who have (or are building) careers outside the professoriate
Surveying employers who have hired a former graduate student into an alt-ac position
Seeking contributions to an alt-ac database called “Who We Are,” in which people list their names, employers, and job titles.

The surveys close on October 1.


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