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The Department of Art History recognizes that mentoring and advising involve a long-term commitment to the intellectual and professional development of graduate students. To that end, the department has established a vigorous program of mentorship for all its graduate programs, which include a M.A., Ph.D. and Direct Ph.D. in Art History, a Curatorial Track (CT) Ph.D. and Direct Ph.D., as well as a 4+1 B.A./M.A. in Art History for Museum Professionals.
Organized in terms of scholarship, teaching and professional development, this plan is implemented over the several years during which graduates are in our program. In addition to establishing a program of effective mentoring, the department works to create a culture of mentoring as a means of assuring the excellent training and community engagement our graduates are justly known for.
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The director of graduate studies (DGS), the director of the curatorial track (CT director), and faculty advisors meet regularly with graduate students regarding their work in all classes and engage in ongoing discussions regarding their areas of specialty. Students keep a record of their degree progress using check sheets developed for each graduate program: M.A., 4+1 M.A., Ph.D., Direct Ph.D., CT Ph.D., and CT Direct Ph.D. Throughout, advisors provide constructive feedback on questions of scholarship and serve as resources for all other matters, including ways to develop better work habits, improve writing and exposition skills, and cope with the various stresses of graduate school. Crucially, they help graduate students build scholarly networks by connecting them with other graduate students and faculty related to their interests in UD departments and other universities. During the first years in the program, meetings are typically held on an as-needed basis, with a minimum of two meetings every term. Toward the completion of the program requirements, especially during the completion of the M.A. paper and the doctoral dissertation, meetings usually follow a research and writing schedule previously agreed on by student and advisor.
Faculty review all graduate students every year at the beginning of the spring semester. Prior to this review, students submit funding request forms, reporting on their academic progress, which include a summary of that year's work, whether coursework, exams, or dissertation research and writing, as appropriate to their status within the program. Following this all-faculty review, advisors confer with students to discuss further plans or, where appropriate, remedial action.
Through their major doctoral exams, students have the opportunity to work closely not only with their primary advisors but also with faculty in diverse fields and thereby establish wider mentoring networks. Doctoral students are also encouraged to expand their areas of specialization by preparing for minor exams in areas substantially different from their major fields and working closely with other faculty in the department and throughout the University. Their intellectual networks beyond the department are further developed by department regulations that require external scholars as part of their dissertation committees.
For students in the M.A. program for Museum Professionals and the Curatorial Track, the department facilitates museum, gallery and archive internships through which students gain significant professional experience and are able to expand their professional networks. The CT doctoral internships include a public colloquium wherein students present their internship work and its relevance to their studies for community feedback and constructive criticism. Institutional supervisors usually attend these events and provide detailed evaluations of student performance that can be shared with the student by their advisor. Graduate students can also expand their professional skill sets and mentoring networks through graduate assistantships offered annually by the department in conjunction with the UD Museums, Special Collections, the Delaware Art Museum and other entities both on and off campus.
For those students ready to develop their dissertation proposals or to apply for grants, the department offers an annual Dissertation Proposal Development Workshop. This is a semester-long fall seminar, timed to prepare students to meet fall and winter grant deadlines and to submit dissertation proposals the following spring. Typically co-taught by senior faculty, the workshop entails close analytical reviews of student writing. Students are expected to undertake multiple revisions of their proposals with the goal of producing a strong draft by the end of the semester. Each week, the workshop focuses on key sections of any dissertation or grant proposal, including abstracts, project descriptions, methodology, bibliographic essays and work plans. Other ad hoc workshops on abstract and grant application writing are also regularly offered in the fall semester.
Once their dissertation proposals have been approved, doctoral students are encouraged to take part in programs designed to enhance their writing and speaking skills, such as the Dissertation Boot Camps organized by the College of Arts and Sciences' Writing Center and the Delaware Public Humanities Institute (DELPHI), organized by the Center for Material Culture Studies. Students also often participate in ad hoc writing groups voluntarily organized by faculty, workshopping drafts of their written work and receiving constructive criticism from advisors and peers. Every year, the department also organizes dissertation colloquia, during which students who have completed dissertation chapters present ongoing research to the department and larger community.
Students just entering the program are usually given one to two semesters of fellowship funding, wherein they are not asked to teach in order to gain their bearings and develop their best work habits. By the second or third semesters, students will be asked to serve as teaching assistants (TAs). This will generally involve a 100 or 200 level course to allow students to work closely with undergraduates and to receive consistent feedback from the course instructor. At the end of the term, faculty review student feedback with the TA and discuss strategies for enhancing their teaching skills. During the annual review meetings, faculty who have supervised TAs report on their performance, creating an opportunity for further feedback from all faculty.
In addition, students are asked to teach sections in the art history introductory courses, ARTH153 and ARTH154. This is an intensive training experience, with each student running two sections of up to 20 students each and meeting weekly with the instructor in a pedagogy seminar (ARTH851) to discuss the specifics of the course material as well as teaching strategies. Students prepare teaching plans for several of the sections, which are discussed and refined multiple times throughout the semester. The faculty members in charge of the introductory courses report to the assembled faculty annually on the performance of TAs. Students in the last stages of the Ph.D. program are also invited to teach undergraduate courses as instructors of record in the winter and summer terms. Throughout these opportunities, students are encouraged to attend training sessions and workshops organized by the Graduate College, Faculty Commons, Center for Teaching and Assessment of Learning (CTAL), the UD Anti-racism Initiative (UDARI), etc.
The department sponsors a number of programs designed to advance the professional development of our students. These include occasional alumni panels organized around specific topics. Often, these are conducted virtually to encourage broad participation among current students and other alumni. In addition to addressing pressing contemporary concerns, these events help develop students' professional networks. Every year, the department also sponsors a Graduate Student Lecture Series. Students volunteer to form small teams to recommend speakers, contact them, help organize logistics, publicize talks and serve as designated interlocutors and moderators for discussions. A faculty liaison works closely with the student teams to develop protocols, talking-points and discussion questions for each of the invited lecturers.
The department also sponsors an annual Graduate Student Research Symposium, held every April, wherein students present their work and receive substantial constructive feedback from the entire art history community. In addition, the department enjoys excellent relations with various cultural institutions that support graduate student symposia. Graduate students often form part of the interdisciplinary graduate committees that organize the biannual Emerging Scholars Symposium with UD's Center for Material Culture Studies. Our students also routinely deliver papers at many regional events, stretching from Washington, DC, to New York and Boston. Of particular note are two regional graduate student symposia, organized by the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) in Washington DC, where nominated students represent the department by presenting their research. The department has also partnered with regional institutions such as the UD Museums, the Delaware Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art to enable graduate students organize gallery talks about works of art for public audiences and thereby advance their public engagement skills.
Lastly, students are regularly encouraged and mentored by all faculty to present symposium papers, attend conferences, apply for grants, and pursue related professional opportunities. The Department is often able to provide travel support for students delivering papers.
The department recognizes that good mentoring is not the work of a single advisor; it is, rather, the result of a healthy culture of mentoring. To that end, the department holds Graduate Student Town Hall meetings every semester so that graduate students or their designated representatives can express their concerns to faculty and keep lines of communication open, fresh and honest. Faculty who attend these meetings, typically the department officers, are asked to respond in a timely fashion to graduate requests. A graduate student representative is also invited to a subsequent faculty meeting to report on the Town Hall proceedings from the graduate student perspective. Further, all faculty are regularly made aware of UD resources they can recommend to their advisees and the graduate students in their seminars, including Academic Support Services, Career Services, Disability Services, diversity support services for women, LGBTQ students, international students, and students from underrepresented groups. Being a small department, all faculty are encouraged to speak regularly about their own research, teaching and professional service as a way to model for our graduate students the various facets of professional conduct in art history and to prepare them with a reliable foundation for a satisfying career in the field.