#alt-ac in Context
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.
The work of such institutions is enriched and enabled by capable "alternative academic" humanities scholars. Although they are rarely conventionally-employed as faculty members, the people contributing to this site maintain a research (or R&D) and publication profile, and bring their methodological and theoretical training to bear every day on problem sets of great importance to higher education. For some, keeping their considerable talents within — or around — the academy can be more difficult than making a switch to private-sector careers. Class divisions among faculty and staff in higher ed are profound, and the suspicion and (worse) condescension with which so-called “failed academics” are met can be disheartening.
For all that, we love our work. Many on the #alt-ac track will tell you about the satisfaction of making teams (and systems, and programs) work, of solving problems and personally making or enabling breakthroughs in research and scholarship in their disciplines, and of contributing to and experiencing the life of the mind in ways they did not imagine when they entered grad school. This site is for them, and for the next generation of hybrid humanities scholars — people who are building skills and experience in precisely those areas of the academy that are most in flux, and most in need of guidance and attention by sensitive, capable, imaginative, and well-informed #alt-ac scholar-practitioners.
Founding editor Bethany Nowviskie describes the genesis of the #alt-ac project in her introductory essay, "Two Tramps in Mud Time" and talks more about the phrase "alternative academic" here (hint: it's really about an alternative academia, a new imagination for the systems in which we operate), — while coordinating editor Katina Rogers describes work we are doing to discover more about the current make-up of the community and its needs.
Readers may also be interested in resources to be found at projects like the Versatile PhD and GradHacker. You can follow ongoing conversations about alternative academic careers marked with the “#alt-ac” hashtag on Twitter, and see a list of some of our twittering community members.