UW News

May 21, 2009

Graduate School compiles professional development activities

The Graduate School has produced a compendium of departmental professional development activities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows that it hopes will be the beginning of a program to improve professional development for graduate students and post docs generally.

The report was compiled by Joe Hannah, who recently earned his doctorate in geography and has been working as a consultant for the Graduate School since last fall. Hannah’s work was the result of an initiative by the former graduate dean, Suzanne Ortega, to look at professional development and devise better ways the Graduate School might serve to improve it, said Assistant Dean Rebecca Aanerud, who is in charge of the project. (Current Dean Jerry Baldasty has endorsed the initiative’s continuation.)

The compendium is actually an updating of earlier work that started with the “Re-envisioning the Ph.D.” project in 2000. Then, in 2008, Jennie Dorman, interim associate director of the Center for Instructional Development and Reseearch, conducted focus groups with graduate students about professional development and shared the results with Hannah.

“Joe [Hannah] thought [the original work] was worth updating,” Aanerud said. “The goal is to have that as a reference so that programs can look at it to see what others are doing — and so that we in the Graduate School know what’s going on and can partner better.”

Later this summer, Hannah will submit a report with recommendations about a more coherent professional development program in the Graduate School. Up to now, Aanerud said, the Graduate School has offered “an eclectic series of workshops” on subjects such as ethics in research, how to write a teaching statement and conflict resolution.

“Our goal is to have a five-year professional development plan that will pay attention to the different types of needs graduate students have as they move through their programs,” Aanerud said.

The compendium is being sent out to departments. Copies are also available in the Graduate School for anyone who wants one.