AUSTIN, Texas —UT Austin is participating in a conference with educational leaders from across the country to discuss the growing trend toward a more public orientation for academics. In particular, the discussion will focus on the significant role of the humanities and arts in society.
Associate Graduate Dean Rick Cherwitz has been invited to attend the conference by the presidents of The University of Michigan and The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, co-sponsors of the event.
Designated the “Conversation of 12,” the conference will be held in New York City on Oct. 31. Other leading U.S. universities invited to participate include Harvard, Chicago, Juilliard, Duke and Princeton, in addition to numerous prestigious organizations such as The Ford Foundation, The American Council of Learned Societies, The Andrew Mellon Foundation, The J. Paul Getty Trust and The Carnegie Corporation.
Specifically, the discussion will emphasize engaging intellectuals more profoundly in civil society without diluting their scholarly efforts, supporting links between the academy and communities, and advancing the role of the humanities throughout society.
UT Austin’s Graduate School Professional Development (GSPD) Program, established in 1997, has garnered national media attention for being the first program intended to help graduate students become “citizen scholars,” to use and expand their expertise by working as intellectual partners with those outside the University. UT’s effort to educate graduate students in such areas as academic and professional writing, ethics, technology, consulting and communication has become a model for other institutions that are seeking to build similar partnerships with their communities.
Cherwitz, who created and directs the GSPD, believes that programs such as this one can realize the untapped intellectual potential of integrating academic disciplines with the public and private sectors.
Doing so will not only expand career opportunities for graduate students, but will increase academic and public knowledge, and change the fabric of society.
“The goal of GSPD is to provide graduate students with the overall competence to succeed, no matter their chosen venue,” Cherwitz said.
“Students are finding that the combination of GSPD classes with studies in their disciplines gives them a wide-range of marketable knowledge and skills. We must expand the concept of scholar, making clear that rigorous intellectual activity occurs both inside and outside of the academy, the integration of which is needed to solve society’s most complex and challenging problems.”