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The Citizenship We're Not Talking About

By David Thiele, Inside Higher Ed

In the welter of conflicting diagnoses and prescriptions for higher education, the need to reform doctoral programs is one thing that almost everybody seems to agree upon. The complaints have become familiar: candidates spend far too long earning the degree. Even wonderfully talented Ph.D.s languish outside the gates of the tenure-track promised land. Those who do manage to slip through the gates often must scramble to develop the undergraduate teaching chops that most doctoral programs don’t provide yet most employers are banking on for student retention.

The basic options for reform have become fairly familiar as well: cut down the number of doctoral programs or the time to degree while increasing the commitment to teach pedagogy. Of course, finding the collective will to enact such changes is another matter. One can hope that “A discursive threshold has been reached,” as Sidonie Smith told Inside Higher Ed, and that doctoral programs will finally be “swept up in the tide of transformation” that has lifted Smith’s spirits.

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