academia

Ph.Ds Data, National Science Foundation 2016

Sobering statistics from Laura McKenna at The Atlantic:

A Ph.D. who wins the rare job as a tenure-track professor earns on average about $60,000 per year, according to the NSF report. In contrast, post-doc positions—temporary research spots that are most common in the sciences and draw 39 percent of the Ph.D.s with post-graduation commitments at universities—pay a little over $40,000 per year. Incidentally, the median entrance-level salary for college graduates with a B.A. in 2014 was $45,478.

I love what I do and I know what my goals are, but I’m under no delusion about the difficulties involved in getting what I want.

Hu Shih on the Fall of the Roman Empire

Working on a piece about Chinese historiography, and I came across this piece by Hu Shih on Rome in 1912 – clearly showing signs of Gibbons’ influence:

「忽念及羅馬所以衰亡,亦以統一過久,人有天下思想而無國家觀念,與吾國十年前同一病也。羅馬先哲如 Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius 皆倡世界大同主義。。。又耶教亦持天下一家之說,尊帝為父而不尊崇當日之國家,亦羅馬衰亡之一原因也。」

“I suddenly recall that the reason for Rome’s demise was that it too had been unified for too long. People had a “world-mindset” but no conception of their country, a sickness just like that of our country ten years ago. [1] Early Roman philosophers like Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius all promoted the principle of the “Great World Unity”… Furthermore Christianity also supported the notion that the world was one family and respected God as the Father but did not respect the country of the day. This too, was a reason for Rome’s demise.”

[1] Perhaps a dig at Kang Youwei?

On the Poor Job Market for History Ph.D. Grads

Someone I know recently shared this report from Inside Higher Ed on the current job market for history Ph.D.s (emphasis mine):

“In history, the situation may be especially challenging for new Ph.D.s, because their numbers have continued to grow as the market has become so tight.

“Notably, for the first time in 41 years, the number of jobs advertised with the AHA fell below half the number of Ph.D.s conferred in the previous year. Approximately 1,183 new Ph.D.s were conferred in history in the 2013-14 academic year,” says the report on the jobs data, written by Robert B. Townsend, who oversees the Washington office of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Humanities Indicators Project, and Julia Brookins, special projects coordinator at the AHA.”

Okay, this was all very well and depressing, though I entered grad school with no illusions about the current challenging conditions of academic work. There was a glimmer of hope at the end, though:

“Areas where there are proportionately more jobs than are reflected in the new Ph.D. pool are Asian history (9 percent of listings and 6.6 percent of new Ph.D.s) and African history (4.4 percent of listings and 2.7 percent of new Ph.D.s).”

What I find amazing is that 55.9% of new history graduates study Euro-American history. For all the advances this field has made in inclusiveness and global-mindedness over the years, it’s still a pretty conservative field. I guess it was something I didn’t realize during my undergraduate years when I was still an East Asian Studies major.