Abstract

Many authors in recent years note threats to humanistic studies within higher education. They express concern about the overproduction of PhD graduates, the increasing costs of higher education, and other topics. Ethnomusicologists are undoubtedly aware of such issues, yet as a society SEM has not engaged with related publications, nor has it collected much data on specific challenges to our own field. This essay synthesizes literature on trends within the humanities and considers its potential relevance for ethnomusicology. Then, based on interviews with faculty, as well as a 2018 survey circulated to current and former students on the SEM LISTSERV, it briefly considers the state of our discipline in terms of core training, student support, student placement, and other topics. The data suggest that many issues confronting ethnomusicologists resonate with those in other disciplines and that we would benefit from engagement with nationwide dialogues involving the future of graduate studies. Suggestions proposed are many and include an orientation of research toward issues impacting communities near one’s university, greater focus on team-based inquiry rather than individual scholarship, more active collaborations across disciplines, diverse professional training, more attention to shaping the content of K–12 education, communication with diverse audiences, and a research focus on areas of broad public concern whenever possible.

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