Note: this blog post was originally published on our career advice column on Inside Higher Ed. Dr. Victor Ray is an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. You can follow h…
A few ideas come to mind as I read this, considering the looming uncertainty of interdisciplinary fields and degrees as a result of these disparities. Fields like gender and or ethnic studies are struggling to survive, particularly in institutions with smaller endowments/funding pools.
From the places I have gotten research funded, it is also a matter of the extent to which those institutions are valued. Efforts at diversifying not only the profession but the kinds of histories that are valid, arguably, equally suffer. Some decades’ old research centers may have the potential to grow, however, how invested are hosting institutions in that growth? Community members? From limited experience, research institutions (not sources of funding yet) operate similarly to nonprofits, where they are going where there is demand.
As a writer, as well as a scholar, demand is often created by what already exists or what others–students, junior scholars, assertive writer-artists–demand gain attention. When I think of the Latinx writers are famous, I look at where they received their degrees. That matters. It’s the conversation I have with my colleagues and family members in academia. It matters. The demand is tricky because the ‘demand’ can be created by the insistence of visibility which means, going back to Victor Ray’s point, finding alternative support or internalized sense of grit, to resist the shame of having less access to resources. I say grit because of the needed persistence to build and sustain important relationships. Grit to: as a graduate student, stand outside offices’ and advisors’ doors insisting on more, more financial support, more support finding alternative resources, more professional support from those who paved the way. Grit to realize, regardless of what/who cannot be funded, this work cannot be done alone. The need for others does not end with tenure.
I look forward to what advice Victor Ray will provide. Between the useful yet problematic wikidoc ‘Going to Grad School While Poor,’ the woman of color social networks on social media, the more transparent those of us who reconfigured limitation as opportunity to be creative are, the better those on any stage of the trajectory can imagine more.