The Formation of Scholars: Rethinking Doctoral Education for the Twenty-First Century (2007) The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching George Walker, Chris M. Golde, Laura Jones, Andrea Conklin Bueschel, Pat Hutchings Jossey-Bass, 232 pp.
Like many others in this world, I am anxious. Change is happening much too quickly in our economies, governments, and ultimately in our personal lives, including my own. Having just resigned a position at my university that I thought would last until retirement, I am now pondering my future in this time of uncertainty. This decision was based on my desire to engage in full-time doctoral studies in an attempt to remove the title candidate that has followed the letters PhD after my name for the last several years. So it is fitting that I was asked to read and comment on the book The Formation of Scholars: Rethinking Doctoral Education for the Twenty-First Century.
This book could not have been published at a better time for me, as a graduate student and research administrator who has been engaged in the process of assisting young minds to develop over the last seven years and who is leaving and now taking the time to reflect on my own accomplishments. The impact that I have had in the development of people and knowledge cannot be underestimated as I think about my role as facilitator, researcher, mentor, and steward, all of which are discussed in this book as essential components in graduate programs but also equally important in research administration.
Sometimes research administrators get bogged down with issues of compliance and regulation and forget the part we could play in the development of university programs for graduate students who will eventually become members of the group we are paid to support. We need to think of ourselves as members of a community of scholars engaged with graduate students, presidents, vice presidents, deans, chairs, and faculty members who all take a keen interest in ensuring current models of graduate education are keeping pace with an ever changing world.
If we do not collectively assume this responsibility for the ongoing assessment of PhD programs then current levels of attrition will continue to impede the development of new scholars and knowledge. Approximately 50% of our PhD students lose interest or drop out in part due to the constraints placed on them by inflexible, poorly supported, outdated and/or non-relevant models. The toll that it takes on the personal and financial lives of students and their families, the faculty members who mentor them, the tax payers who fund them, the research administrators who facilitate the acquisition of funding, and the resulting loss of new knowledge that potentially ends with their withdrawal, is substantial.
As a result of these issues, and a belief that the "importance of doctoral education ... cannot be overestimated" (p. 2), a...