Rethinking Careers, Rethinking Academia


Rethinking Careers, Rethinking Academia

Series Editors: Joseph Fruscione & Erin Bartram

University Press of Kansas


As more and more academics at various career stages are exploring different options for work outside the professoriate, changes to academia are causing a rethinking of both the curricula and the ethics of PhD programs. People considering alternate career paths after academia continue to need resources to guide them. The aim of this new series is to redefine what success means for current and former PhD students.

Rethinking Careers, Rethinking Academia seeks projects that lead to meaningful professional development and create lasting value. Topics should speak to graduate students, recent and experienced PhDs, university faculty and administrators, and the growing alt-ac and post-ac community. The series will offer affordable books marketed to a wide readership. Projects could be analyses of the academic and alt-ac or post-ac landscapes; how-to guides about dealing with a PhD program or transitioning into various professions; memoirs about different stages of an academic journey; (re)examinations of the purpose, structure, and ethics of graduate education in the twenty-first century; or something else. There’s plenty of room for creative approaches!

Send inquiries and questions to Follow us on Twitter at @erin_bartram and @Joe_Fru. Read our Series FAQs here.

We’re creating a series for those in graduate school, those beyond graduate school, and those who run it. The series is about rethinking and moving beyond traditional academic frameworks, and we’re looking for books that do the same. We’re open to inventive and accessible work unbound by conventional academic formatting and tone.  Here are some project ideas we’re interested in discussing. Think of these primarily as jumping-off points for a book or essay collection you could pitch or contribute to:

Transitioning to public and private high school teaching

  • How does someone make the leap, present their skills, demonstrate how their experience as a professor translates, and learn what they might not know about teaching younger students?
  • This approach could feature some very focused pedagogy—e.g., translating lessons you did in a university setting into something reasonable and allowed in a K-12 setting.

“My First Year As ____”

  • This could combine on-the-job stories and how-to elements for transitioning into a new career.

“A Very Short Intro To a Career As a _____”

  • This could cover editing, writing, freelancing (especially how to pitch), government work, business, STEM jobs, and so on. Think of it as a primer for someone who wants to transition into a specific field.
  • Ideally, these how-to guides will help people transitioning from all relevant disciplines understand what is necessary for securing employment and succeeding in the field. This could include discussions of credentialing, transferable experience, “traditional” paths into the field, and even frank discussions of the difficulties that transitioning academics will face based on both real and perceived differences in work culture and experience.

Mid-career change stories (e.g., leaving a tenured position—voluntarily or otherwise)

The “Two-Body Problem”/Dual-career couples inside and outside academia

The ethics of graduate education

  • What can directors of graduate studies do to help prepare PhD students for a variety of jobs, avoid the stigma of “failure” for those who don’t make the tenure track, and share honest advice and placement data with new PhD students, etc.?
  • Academic career counseling for PhDs: What can post-academic scholars offer back to the academy to make things better for future PhDs? How can this offer meaningful, useful job advice from people who know?
  • How has graduate education changed? What have particular fields or individual programs done? What adjustments were made after 2008 that have turned out well or poorly? What are the effects of forced retirements, eliminated lines, and increasing casualization of academic labor?

Marginalized Communities in Alt-Ac/Post-Ac life

  • What are the dynamics of gender, race, sexuality, etc. of these communities?
  • How has this shaped how alt-ac and PhD options are deployed?
  • How do we grapple with the ethics of service and other “woman’s” work in academia?

Reasons other than the job market why people leave academia: e.g., STEM PhDs who went right into government or private-sector work, people who’ve dealt with issues surrounding race, disability, or immigration status

Ways of continuing research as an alt-ac or independent scholar

  • How does a scholar pursue academic research & writing off the tenure track and/or outside academia?
  • What is the meaning of academic service when there’s no PTR file?
  • How does working outside the academy help scholars realize anew the value of their time and labor, perhaps by withholding it and/or saying no to unpaid requests that they might’ve said yes to before?
  • How do scholars turn academic writing projects and skills into marketable work outside academia (e.g., museum work, archives, exhibits, or consulting)?
  • What are the structural barriers to continuing any of this work?

Feel free to contact us with suggestions of topics you’d like to read about! Send an email to: