Independent Scholars Meet the World

Expanding Academia beyond the Academy

Edited by Christine Caccipuoti and Elizabeth Keohane-Burbridge

For too long graduate school was viewed solely as a pipeline to teaching positions at colleges and universities. As MAs and PhDs proliferate and opportunities in the academy narrow, this timely book reminds us that the academy is only one of many venues for satisfying and successful scholarly endeavor.

The contributors to Independent Scholars Meet the World represent a spectrum of graduate school experiences, from leaving midprogram to completing an MA or PhD. They include those who sought nontraditional paths and others who started in the familiar professorial direction only to change course. Ultimately, they are independent scholars—contributing to their fields but working outside the academy. Their stories illustrate the variety of options that exist beyond the university setting, from museum education and high school teaching to newer professions like podcasting and creating historical coloring books. These scholars impart advice about encountering difficulties, overcoming challenges, and learning to adapt to changing circumstances. All have something to share that the graduating scholar and those who guide them ought to hear about—cultivating networks; viewing departure from familiar terrain as an option, not a failure; and understanding the real value that an independent scholar brings to any number of situations. Perhaps the most important lesson this book offers is for those steeped in the belief that the only “right” way to be a scholar is as a tenured professor, and how, therefore, to embrace the label independent scholar

“A comprehensive exploration of the challenges faced by independent scholars—namely lack of time, resources, and affiliation—that are compounded by issues of race, gender, disability, and caring responsibilities. Eleven successful independent scholars give honest, pragmatic accounts of creating and maintaining their own academic profile that will surely inspire and guide others. This volume demonstrates that independent does not mean inferior and that high-quality scholarship can indeed be pursued outside the confines of academe.”

—Amanda J. Haste, PhD, president, National Coalition of Independent Scholars

“This important book provides insights into the experiences, talents, flexibility, and persistence of independent scholars. The work gives independent scholars the due recognition they justly deserve and offers motivation and inspiration for those who are committed to forging their own unique paths outside the space of academia.”

—Gavin Wilk, author of Transatlantic Defiance: The Militant Irish Republican Movement in America, 1923–45

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The contributors to Independent Scholars Meet the World offer the advice and encouragement they wish theyd received when heading into uncharted postgraduate territory. They demonstrate that success awaits the determined and resourceful scholar pursuing a different path towards “expanded-ac.”

About the Author

Christine Caccipuoti and Elizabeth Keohane-Burbridge produce the popular history podcast Footnoting History. In addition, Keohane-Burbridge is a history teacher at Woodward Academy in Georgia and Caccipuoti is a freelance writer and performer.

Additional Titles in the Rethinking Careers, Rethinking Academia Series