Re-imagining the PhD: Summary Report 2014

The symposium for Re-imagining the PhD, held at the Liu Institute for Global Issues on June 6th, 2014, was conceived as an "experiment in community dialogue," an attempt to begin a critical conversation around the parameters, content, and purposes of doctoral education. 

Broadly speaking, the overall objective of the symposium was to re-evaluate what many stakeholders, including University leaders, faculty members, students, employers and government policymakers perceive as a PhD model that for many students is no longer fully suited to the current historical moment, a PhD that prepares students for work in an academy whose capacity is not keeping pace with the number of scholars being trained.  Some of the primary questions guiding the conversation included:

  • How many PhDs should we be educating?
  • How long should doctoral education take?
  • What are graduates doing when they leave?What should they be able to do, and to know?
  • How might we re-imagine doctoral (and masters and postdoctoral) education to reflect the needs and reality of our changing global context?

While no singular consensus about the future of the PhD emerged, the event fostered a rich and multi-faceted dialogue that, hopefully, will resonate across campus and beyond in the coming months and years.  Many throughout the day commented on how much they valued the cross-university dialogue, and how rare a thing it was to engage in meaningful discussion and debate with colleagues from other disciplines.  The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies plans to continue facilitating discussion on this and related topics in the future.

The summary report of the event, including links to videos of the day's featured speakers and panels is available here.