Columbia University

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Division of Humanities

Initiative

Columbia University’s thirteen humanities departments are among the pillars upholding the stellar reputation of both the College and the University. Long known for housing a remarkable array of public intellectuals, Columbia humanities departments bring the world’s best art and ideas to the attention of those within the university and beyond. In 2014-15, the humanities faculty identified key areas for innovation. Some of these proposed changes will strengthen traditional areas of excellence; others will allow us to expand into important emerging areas. Our goal for the next decade is to make the humanities more digital, more public, and more global.

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Leadership

Sarah Cole is the Parr Professor of English and Comparative Literature and the Dean of Humanities.

 

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The Global Humanities Projects aim to make our teaching and research global in both form and content.  Students and faculty become global by learning languages; by collaborating with thinkers from around the world; and by experiencing the linguistic and cultural diversity that exists within as well as across locales, nations, and regions. These grants support projects that engage collaboratively with scholars outside of the United States, with a focus on any topic that brings together flows of knowledge from two or more different world areas, and investigates issues through a prism of global interconnectedness.  

Columbia University and Paris Sciences & Lettres (PSL) have been collaborating on a variety of projects and exchanges, including research, seminars, and conferences in both Paris and New York, and short-term faculty visits. The Columbia-PSL Collaboration brings Columbia faculty into contact with some of France’s most prestigious and internationally respected academic and research institutions, including the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS), and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).  Nine new projects will continue the collaboration for 2018-19.  

Congratulations to all of the faculty members at Columbia, as well as their partners at PSL, who received this year's awards.  The full list of winners, and more information about each project, is available here.


 

Resources and Information for Humanities Faculty

 

 

Humanities Faculty News

 

Subscribe to the Humanities Newsletter here.

 

 

Faculty Resources

 

Information on tenure and promotion, leaves, research, and teaching.  Resources on junior faculty support, awards and fellowship submissions,  work/life benefits, and more.

 

 

Grants, CFPs, and Other Opportunities

 

Subscribe to the Humanities Opportunities Newsletter here.

 

 

Department Mentoring Plans

 

Arts and sciences mentoring proposal

Background:

We propose that issues of mentoring and of feedback from the formal review process (1st, 3rd, and 5th year reviews) be kept separate.  Although the mentoring program should help junior faculty navigate Columbia’s A&S review system, the mentoring process should not substitute for, nor be formally involved in, the established review system.

 

Separate from the mentoring proposal laid out below, A&S should work to strengthen and regularize the feedback that junior faculty members receive after reviews, particularly but not only, the 3rd year review.  To that end, we propose that information on both mentoring and providing feedback to junior faculty as part of the review system should be provided to department chairs, including at the orientation and information programs for new (and ongoing) chairs that A&S has recently established.

 

Many departments currently have well-functioning mentoring programs in place, and departmental needs for the composition and structure of mentoring committees will differ.  We therefore do not propose a one-size-fits all system, but rather provide elements that all mentoring programs should contain, and provide a sample program to serve as the “default” mentoring program.

Requirements for Departmental Mentoring Programs:

Every department should have a mentoring program in place for junior faculty members who have not yet been promoted to tenure.  

 

Mentoring programs should be established (or revised) in consultation with junior faculty in the department.  We encourage departments to allow anonymous feedback during this process.

 

All programs should: 

provide support and advice on how to succeed at Columbia and in academia

serve as a sounding board as an advocate (if necessary)

provide feedback on research

help orient the junior faculty member within Columbia (e.g., on finding available resources for research and teaching)

 

Mentoring programs are NOT intended to provide a critical evaluation or an assessment of progress. The junior faculty member is not obligated to follow any advice, nor does the advice constitute a roadmap for or guarantee of promotion or success.

 

Evaluation of mentoring programs:

Departments should provide a copy of their mentoring program to their Divisional Deans by May 1, 2015.  

 

Divisional Deans should review mentoring programs and make suggestions for improvements, and/or share information about mentoring initiatives in other departments, as relevant.  Review of mentoring should become an integral part of the ARC review process.

 

All department mentoring programs will be posted on the Arts and Sciences website. 

Sample/Default Mentoring Program

Composition of the Mentoring Committee:

Two tenured faculty, normally one from within the department and one from outside. 

 

Appointed by the Department Chair, in consultation with the junior faculty member during his/her first semester at Columbia.  The committee can change year-to-year. 

 

Charge:

provide support and advice on how to succeed at Columbia and in academia

serve as a sounding board and advocate (if necessary)

provide feedback on research

help orient the junior faculty member within Columbia (e.g., on finding available resources for research and teaching)

Topics mentors might discuss with mentees include:

General research agenda and how to prioritize among research projects

Obtaining funding and/or opportunities for research leaves

Suitability of publication outlets and formats 

Gaining visibility in the field

Balance of research, teaching, and service, strategies for teaching, and for advising graduate students

Work/life balance issues (including “infrastructure” issues such as dealing with the Columbia housing office, schools, etc.).

Departments are encouraged to develop more specific lists of “sample questions” tailored to their own discipline. (One such list is provided as an example in the appendix).  Such a list should not be seen as a mere check-list, nor as a constraint on discussions, but rather as a way to foster a broad-ranging conversation.

 

Meetings:

Mentors meet at least once annually with the junior faculty member (all together, or individually, as the junior faculty member prefers). Mentors should meet with an incoming faculty member during her or his first semester.

 

Mentors should inform the department chair that this meeting has taken place, but should not report on the substance of the meeting, nor provide an evaluation of the junior faculty member. The junior faculty member should feel free to ask mentors for feedback and advice at other times when needed.

 

Mentoring meetings should be informal and collegial conversations; junior faculty should feel free to request that conversations, or sensitive aspects thereof be kept confidential.

 

Appendix:  Sample list of questions to guide meetings between mentors and junior faculty members (from the Political Science Department).  Departments should adapt this to fit their own needs.

 

Research: 

What books/papers are under review?  Where?

What specific plans do you have to submit work for review in the future?  Where?

Are there co-authors on your work?  Who, for what papers/books?  Are your co-authors senior to you, junior to you, or peers?

What do you see as the overarching theme or contribution of your research?

Are there infrastructural problems (e.g., IRB approvals, need for RAs or travel money, need to identify research assistants) that are making progress on research difficult?

If you are writing a book, what are your plans to organize a mini-conference around the book?  Note the department has funds to support this.

Do you have questions about whether it’s better to write a book or a series of articles? 

What efforts have you made (and do you plan to make) to seek outside support for your research?  Do you have questions about the process of seeking outside support or have you faced issues in doing so?

What opportunities have you had or will you have to present your work outside Columbia (in department seminars, major conferences, small-scale conferences, etc.)

Who do you think is the main audience for your work, and based on this who do you think are likely external evaluators should you come up for tenure at Columbia?

What do you hope to have achieved vis-à-vis concrete research outputs by the time (a) of your next A&S review, and (b) you are scheduled to come up for tenure

Are there particular parts of your work that you would like more substantive feedback on from your mentor and/or from other faculty?

 

Teaching: 

What courses have you taught?

What has been the feedback from the students?  (Consult course evaluations where available)?

How many grad students are you advising formally?  How many informally?

How much time do you spend talking to students (graduate or undergraduate) about issues other than their research (eg personal problems)?

During the past semester, what proportion of your work time do you estimate was devoted to any aspect of teaching?

Are there aspects of your teaching assignments that you feel are unduly burdensome?  If so, why?

Have you had an issues or problems in working with TAs (or know how to utilize them)?

Have you had any issues or problems in assigning grades to students?

 

Service:

What service have you provided in the department?

What service have you provided at Columbia but outside the department?

What service have provided outside the University?

Are there any specific requests for service that you would like to say no to or that you worry are putting undue burden on your time?

More generally, do you feel you can say no to service requests when you need to?

Approximately how many articles do you review for journals a year?  Do you feel like you know when to say yes and when to say no to such requests?

 

Other:

What are your leave plans in the coming year?

Are there issues not covered above that affect your ability to achieve your goals?

Are you facing any work-life issues (housing, schooling, day care, etc.) that make it difficult for you to do your job well?