DEPARTMENT OF AMERICAN STUDIES
April 10, 2018
The Department of American Studies consists of an interdisciplinary faculty that takes as its object of study American society and cultures as products of historical, political, economic, and contemporary processes that are local, national, and global. Established in 1945 as one of the first interdisciplinary doctoral programs in the nation, American Studies at Brown is predicated on the ideal of a scholarly engagement with the public that enables its graduates to, as Brown’s 1764 University Charter demands, "discharge the offices of life with usefulness and reputation."
A. MEMBERSHIP, MEETINGS, AND COMMITTEES
1. Membership and Voting
The core faculty is composed of members of the faculty who have .25 or more of their faculty appointments (either roster or effort FTE) in American Studies. Core faculty members are full voting members of the Department who are expected to participate in Departmental decision-making, hiring and promotion decisions. They teach at least one course per year in the Department and are expected to provide service to the Department. Senior lecturers are considered core faculty members.
The associate faculty is composed of members of the faculty who are voting members of other Departments but who teach occasional courses in the Department or courses cross-listed in American Studies, supervise American Studies graduate students as examiners and dissertation committee members, and/or perform other services to the Department. Associate faculty members are non-voting members of the Department. Adjunct faculty, emeritus faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and visiting faculty are considered associate faculty.
B. DEPARTMENT ADMINISTRATION
1. Administrative Officers
The Chair: The selection, term, and institutional duties of the Chair are determined by University policy. According to that policy, the Chair is responsible for 1) the organization of the Department; 2) the supervision of its personnel; 3) the direction of its academic programs; 4) the facilitation of its scholarly and creative endeavors; and 5) the management of its budget. The Chair is expected to carry out the provisions of this document. The Department regards its Chair as a colleague who presides over the orderly functioning of the community, helping it to fulfill its commitments to teaching, research, and university service with maximum effectiveness. The Department relies on the Chair to represent its needs, strengths, and importance to the University administration, to serve as a liaison to other units of the University, and to guide the Department in its efforts to build and define itself for the future.
The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS): The DGS is appointed by the Chair and serves a three-year term. The responsibilities of the DGS include: 1) serving as advisor to graduate students in the Ph.D. program and the M.A. program in American Studies in their first and second years; 2) overseeing graduate student funding and the appointment of graduate students as teaching assistants and proctors; 3) serving on the graduate admissions committee; 4) coordinating the recruitment of admitted graduate students; 5) organizing new graduate student orientation each fall and graduate student commencement each spring; and 6) keeping the graduate program section of the Department website up to date. During each year of his or her term, the DGS will receive one course relief.
Director of the Program in Public Humanities (DPPH): The responsibilities of the DPPH include: 1) advising students in the M.A. in Public Humanities program; 2) coordinating the admission of and recruitment of new Public Humanities graduate students; 3) organizing new Public Humanities student orientation in the fall and commencement each spring; 4) keeping the public humanities program website up to date; 5) working with the Director of the JNBC, arranging for appropriate public humanities courses to be taught each semester and for other programs and workshops. The Director of Public Humanities, should he/she/they not be a member of the department, shall be granted an associate faculty appointment for the length of their term.
The Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS): The DUS is appointed by the Chair and serves a three-year term. The responsibilities of the DUS include: 1) serving as advisor to all American Studies concentrators; 2) meeting with and recruiting potential concentrators; 3) directing the honors program; 4) acting as Department faculty advisor to the Department Undergraduate Group (DUG); 5) overseeing the AMCV0190 seminars taught by graduate students; and 6) keeping the undergraduate program section of the Department website up to date. During each year of his or her term, the DUS will receive one course relief.
C. MEETINGS OF THE DEPARTMENT
The Department will meet at least once every semester and normally once a month. In consultation with the Directors of Undergraduate Studies, Graduate Studies and Public Humanities and the chairs of appropriate committees, the Chair will prepare and circulate an agenda in advance of the meeting. Any faculty member or representative of the Graduate Consortium may add an agenda item by written request to the Chair in advance of the meeting.
Voting members of the Department and two non-voting representatives elected by the consortium of graduate students according to its own by-laws will be invited to attend regular Department meetings.
Special meetings of the Department may be called by the Chair on the petition of one third of the voting faculty or when circumstances warrant a special meeting. Circumstances such as certain personnel matters may dictate that participation at special meetings be limited to voting members of the Department by rank.
All motions before the Department will be voted on by voting members of the Department. A motion is passed by a majority vote of a quorum of the voting faculty. A quorum shall be one half of the voting faculty not on leave.
Department meetings shall rely on Roberts’ Rules of Order in matters of parliamentary procedure.
D. STANDING COMMITTEES
1. Administrative Committee: The Administrative Committee assumes responsibility for overall coordination of routine administrative tasks, advises the Chair on Departmental concerns and priorities, and prepares major issues for consideration at faculty meetings. The Administrative Committee is convened by the Chair and is composed of the Directors of Public Humanities, Graduate Studies, and Undergraduate Studies.
2. Curriculum Committee: The Curriculum Committee oversees the undergraduate and graduate curricula, proposes revisions to the curricular program, approves proposals for new undergraduate and graduate courses, and coordinates the scheduling of courses. It is composed of faculty members, the directors of Graduate Studies, Public Humanities, and Undergraduate Studies, and one non-voting representative of the Departmental Undergraduate Group and the Graduate Consortium, respectively. The chair shall be chosen by the committee at the beginning of each academic year.
3. Graduate Admissions Committee: The Graduate Admissions Committee selects applicants for admission and coordinates the recruitment of graduate students to the Ph.D. and M.A. programs in American Studies. (The Director of the Program in Public Humanities coordinates graduate admissions to the M.A. program in Public Humanities). The Graduate Admissions Committee is comprised of three faculty members appointed by the Chair in consultation with the DGS. The Graduate Admissions Committee is chaired by the Director of Graduate Studies.
E. AD HOC COMMITTEES
1. Hiring Committees: Hiring Committees coordinate and conduct Departmental job searches according to procedures delineated in the Handbook of Faculty Administration (Chapter 5). The members of this advisory committee are appointed by the Chair and are responsible for preparing and presenting a report to the full faculty at a scheduled Department meeting. Following the presentation of the report, individual committee members become free agents and vote accordingly.
2. Graduate Students and Hiring Committees: The Graduate Consortium of the American Studies Department will nominate one advanced doctoral student who has passed their field exams and submitted their dissertation proposal (but who is not on the job market) to serve as a non-voting member on a given hiring committee. The method of selection is up to the GC, but ideally the student’s area of expertise will align with that of the search. The nomination will be reported to the department chair and the search committee chair. Assuming that the appointment meets with faculty approval, the search committee chair will invite the graduate student to all subsequent meetings of the search committee, including interviews and recruitment meals with candidates. The graduate student will have access to all materials in the files except for the confidential letters of recommendation. After the campus interview of each candidate, the Graduate Consortium will solicit feedback from all graduate students in a manner of its own choosing and will share it with the department. Throughout the campus interview process, any graduate student is welcome to individually email the entire search committee thoughts that they may wish to share with the committee about a given candidate.
3. Tenure and Promotion Committees: Tenure and Promotion Committees coordinate and conduct Departmental tenure and promotion reviews according to procedures delineated in the Handbook of Faculty Administration. The Members of the Committee are appointed by the Chair and shall be of rank appropriate to that of the faculty member under review. The Committee is responsible for preparing and presenting an advisory report to the full faculty at a scheduled Department meeting.
F. COMMITTEE REPORTS
Committee reports are advisory and should reflect the full range of committee members' views. Complete copies of each report should be made available to all voting members of the faculty no less than three days before the scheduled Department meeting at which the report is to be considered.
The Department may vote to accept, amend from the floor, resubmit to committee or reject a report. When the Department votes to accept a report in its final form that report becomes the official position of the Department.
On hiring matters, a quorum shall be two-thirds of the voting faculty not on leave.
On matters of promotion and tenure, a quorum shall be two-thirds of the voting faculty of appropriate rank.
On all other matters, a quorum shall be one half of the voting members.
G. STANDARDS AND CRITERIA FOR REAPPOINTMENT AND PROMOTION
1. Governing Principles for the review of individual faculty:
The Department of American Studies expects its faculty to meet the highest standards of excellence in all aspects of scholarship, teaching, and service to the Department, the University and the scholarly and larger communities.
Scholarship: The Department of American Studies desires faculty who are national leaders in their fields of study; thus, excellence is the most important determining factor in the evaluation of scholarship. Faculty in American Studies vary in their background and research interests and the quality of their scholarship cannot be measured in quantitative terms. It is expected that, by the time an appointee is reviewed for promotion, she or he will have published scholarly work of great promise. Such work normally will consist of scholarly articles and books. American Studies, however, is also evolving in terms of digital and other venues for producing and sharing knowledge about American culture. Further, as a Department deeply engaged with public culture, from both a social science and humanistic approach, we place a premium on work shared in public venues that may fall outside of the traditional spectrum of academic publishing but it will not alone suffice for scholarly contributions. Candidates for promotion should have also participated in the professional activities of their field. Such activities would include attending meetings and conferences and making presentations before colleagues in their field of study.
Teaching: The Department of American Studies takes teaching very seriously. Teaching excellence in both the undergraduate and graduate programs is of great importance as is the advising of honors theses, independent studies, preliminary fields and dissertations as well as general academic advising.
Service: As a small Department, American Studies asks a great deal of its faculty members in terms of service. Faculty are expected to participate in a fair share of University committee work and other activities pertaining to University affairs, as well as attend Departmental faculty meetings, serve on Departmental
committees, and play a role in the administration of the Department. Service to the scholarly community and/or service to the public will be seen as an asset to the dossier.
2. Standards and Procedures
All recommendations concerning reappointment and promotion of faculty members of the rank of assistant professor and above who hold full or joint appointments in the Department of American Studies shall be made by tenured members the Department in accordance with procedures specified in the Handbook of Academic Administration and the Faculty Rules and Regulations.
3. Voting Rights
In all matters involving annual reviews and promotions of assistant professors and lecturers, only tenured faculty will be eligible to vote. For promotions from associate professor to full professor, only full professors will be eligible to vote. Emeriti Faculty will not be eligible to vote on personnel matters. Those on-leave are eligible to vote and are expected to participate in the discussion of each case, either in person or on-line. Votes for those on-leave may be submitted by email. No final decision shall be reached without at least half of the current faculty participating in discussions and voting.
4. Assistant Professors - Annual Review
The annual reviews will include an evaluation of scholarly work; teaching effectiveness; and service to Brown, the profession, and/or the public. These reviews are conducted in the early fall.
Each Assistant Professor in the Department of American Studies will be reviewed annually in accordance with the current regulations and on the schedule established by the Dean of the Faculty. Normally, the Chair will appoint a member of the tenured faculty (or the Chair) to conduct individual reviews. The tenured faculty member so designated will consult with the untenured faculty member to obtain a current CV and information on work in progress. The tenured faculty in the Department will then examine the review and offer amendments. The reviewer will revise the review, the tenured faculty will approve the final version of the review, send it to the Dean of the Faculty, and then present the review to the Assistant Professor for their response, if any. The review and any response will be included in all reappointment and tenure dossiers.
5. Assistant Professors - Reappointment
The candidate for reappointment will submit a dossier, by the beginning of the first semester of their fourth year, containing materials relating to the three major criteria for evaluation: scholarship, teaching, and service. These materials should include pertinent publications, work-in-progress, book reviews, scripts of museum exhibits and other forms of scholarly production; lists of all academic-related activities (such as committee memberships, Departmental duties performed, other services to the University, and service to the profession including work performed for professional associations), teaching evaluations and syllabi for each course taught, lists of independent studies and honors theses supervised both within and outside the Department, and lists of graduate students who prepared or were preparing preliminary exam fields and dissertations under the candidate’s supervision.
Reappointments shall follow the schedule outlined in the Handbook of Academic Administration or otherwise specified by the Dean of the Faculty and will substitute for the annual review in the year in which it occurs. The process of reappointment of untenured faculty members shall include a review and recommendation by a Review Committee of at least two faculty members to be chosen by the Chair from among tenured members of the Department, in addition members of the Department in which the untenured faculty member holds a joint appointment, or members of the faculty whose scholarly expertise is in the same area as the untenured faculty member under consideration may be asked to serve on such a review committee. Usually, the Chair of the committee will be a member of the Department of American Studies.
The Committee will review the candidate’s scholarly work, teaching effectiveness, and contributions to Brown and local communities according to the standards delineated above. During this process, the Committee may (but is not required to) seek opinions and evaluations from undergraduate students, graduate students, and other Brown faculty. The Committee may also ask the candidate for additional materials.
During the review process, the candidate may (but is not required to) meet with the Committee to discuss the goals, methods, and rationales that the candidate uses in teaching. This discussion would then serve as part of the evaluation of the candidate’s teaching effectiveness. During this meeting, the candidate could also discuss and/or clarify aspects of his or her scholarly work.
The Review Committee’s final report will include all the materials required by the Tenure, Promotion and Appointments Committee (TPAC) and will include all annual reviews written to that date. The tenured members of the faculty, after reviewing the candidate’s dossier, will meet to discuss the Review Committee’s report. The faculty can decide to recommend against reappointment or reappointment for either two or four years. A recommendation for a two-year reappointment indicates strong concerns about the candidate’s ability to receive tenure. A recommendation for a four-year reappointment indicates confidence that the candidate is making good progress toward tenure.
At least ten days before submission to TPAC, the candidate will receive a redacted version of the committee's report and faculty’s recommendation. If the candidate wishes to respond to, or discuss, the contents of the evaluation they must make written request for a meeting with the entire tenured faculty within five days of receipt of the report. After such a meeting the faculty have the option to ask for amendments to the final report. If they choose to do so, they must show the revised report to the candidate before it is submitted to TPAC. The candidate may choose to submit her or his own report in rebuttal, either after a meeting with the faculty, without a meeting with the faculty, and/or in response to a revised faculty report after a meeting. The Chair will submit the final report, the candidate’s rebuttal (if any) and the faculty’s recommendation on reappointment to TPAC and provide the candidate with a copy of the Department’s final report and recommendation.
6. Joint Appointments
For faculty members holding joint appointments, during the evaluation process for annual reviews, reappointments, and promotion, an American Studies Department Review Committee designated by the Chair shall be in communication with the review committee of the department in which the appointee holds a joint appointment so that pertinent information may be exchanged. Decisions regarding a recommendation, however, shall be made independently in accordance with provisions specified in the Handbook of Academic Administration and/or by contract.
7. Assistant Professors – Promotion to Tenure
A successful candidate for promotion to tenure in the Department of American Studies will demonstrate a national reputation in scholarship, excellence in teaching, and dedication to service to the Department, the university and the profession. Judgments of reputation will be based on the publication of an impressive body of distinguished work that has importance for the candidate’s field. Normally a scholarly monograph will be expected in addition to essays, peer reviewed articles, exhibits, digital scholarship, and works of fiction, poetry, and art. The quality of such work will be measured through published reviews, citations in the work of others, national grants and fellowships, honors and awards, invitations to speak, assignments to review books or manuscripts, and inclusion in anthologies, reference works, and edited collections.
Procedures for promotions to tenure will resemble those pertaining to reappointment evaluations with regard to the timing of the review and the formation of a Review Committee, which again follow guidelines listed in the Handbook for Academic Administration and The Faculty Rules. Parental leaves and medical leaves automatically extend the probationary period unless the faculty member requests otherwise.
The Tenure Committee will ask the candidate for a list of external reviewers qualified to review the candidate’s scholarly work and if there are any faculty members in their field who should not be invited to act as reviewers. The Tenure Committee, in consultation with other tenured members of the faculty, will generate similar lists and then agree on a final list of outside reviewers. The final list will include a reasonable representation of names from the candidate’s list, take into account those the candidate does not want to serve as reviewers, and will also include names not mentioned by the candidate. The Tenure Committee will take care to balance the list of outside evaluators between scholars with whom the candidate has worked closely and those with whom the candidate does not have close ties. The final list of recommenders is not available to the candidate and the number of letters now required from external reviewers is eight. The Department will submit the names of prospective reviewers for tenure and promotion cases to the Dean of the Faculty’s office before requesting letters.
The Committee will ask the candidate for a list of undergraduate and graduate students with whom they have worked closely, but may choose to solicit letters from other students as well. The Tenure Committee should pay particular attention to fairness in balancing students suggested by the candidate with others suggested by committee members. The Tenure Committee will consult with graduate students who have worked with the candidate, including those who have taken classes, served as teaching assistants, and been advised in preliminary fields and dissertations. The final set of student letters must include letters from both undergraduate and graduate students. The candidate will not be able to review the final list of students to be solicited. In addition, the Committee will compile and review the student evaluations for every course taught by the candidate and review syllabi and other relevant course materials, including student work.
The Tenure Committee will work with the candidate to prepare a dossier identical to the one prepared for reappointment with the addition of explanations written by the candidate that describe his or her philosophy of teaching and the importance of his or her scholarship. Should the candidate need additional help in preparing the dossier, the Chair of the Department will assist with advice or providing clerical support.
After receiving clearance from the DOF’s office, the Tenure Committee will send letters of inquiry to scholars on the final list of outside evaluators attempting to ascertain their willingness to review the dossier. Should there not be enough positive responses, the Tenure Committee will repeat the process of gathering a new list of outside evaluators and vetting them with the DOF’s office. As positive responses come in, the Chair of the Tenure Committee will send copies of relevant materials to outside evaluators (who will principally review the candidate’s scholarship) and set a reasonable deadline (8-12 weeks) for the evaluation letters to be returned. At the deadline, the Chair of the Tenure Committee will attempt to communicate with outside evaluators who have not sent letters and ascertain the reason for the delay. When a minimum of eight letters has been received, the Tenure Committee may decide either to go ahead with the case or to wait for additional letters.
When all the materials have been received and reviewed, the Tenure Committee will prepare a report on the case and present it to the tenured members of the Department who may suggest changes. The faculty will vote either at that time or upon receipt of an amended report. The Chair of the Department will submit the faculty’s vote, the Committee’s report and the dossier to the Dean of the Faculty and to TPAC. The candidate will be informed of the vote. In the case of a negative vote, the candidate will, in accordance with the Handbook of Academic Administration, be entitled to write a rebuttal and appear at the TPAC meeting.
If, at anytime during the tenure process, the candidate feels that there are irregularities of procedure or timing, he or she may take such concerns to the Chair of the Department who will consult with the Chair of the Tenure Committee and the Dean of the Faculty about the candidate's concerns.
8. Promotion to Full Professor
Candidates will have achieved national or international reputations within their fields. Judgments of reputation will be based on the publication of an impressive body of distinguished work that has importance for the candidate’s field. This may include scholarly and creative production such as the traditional monograph, essays, peer reviewed articles, exhibits, digital scholarship, and works of fiction, poetry, and art. The quality of such work will be measured through published reviews, citations in the work of others, national or international grants and fellowships, honors and awards, invitations to speak, inclusion in anthologies, reference works, and edited collections, assignments to review books or manuscripts, editorships of journals, or international publications.
Procedures for promotions to full professor will resemble those pertaining to reappointment and tenure evaluations with regard to the formation of the committee and the timing, the solicitation of evaluations, the submission of dossier, generation of the report, the Department vote, and the rights of the candidate. Again, all procedures will follow guidelines listed in the Handbook of Academic Administration. The candidate must demonstrate significant continued achievement in all critical categories – scholarship, teaching and service – since the tenure review.
9. Lecturers and Senior Lecturers
Lecturers are defined as appointed members of the faculty who are qualified to teach one or more courses, and to carry out other academic duties. Lecturers are not expected to fulfill the requirements of scholarly research and publication that are expected of faculty of professorial rank; Senior Lecturers will demonstrate expertise in scholarship, teaching and service.
Lecturers and Senior Lecturerswill be evaluated by the Chair or a designated tenured faculty member every three years oras specified by contract. This process will be the same as that employed for the reappointment of Assistant Professors (section G.5 above), but will be based on the Department’s standards of promotion from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer, as outlined below in section G.10. Tenured members of the faculty, Senior Lecturers, and Distinguished Senior Lecturers may vote on the reappointment of Lecturers.
A Lecturer may apply for promotion to Senior Lecturer, with an appropriate increase in salary and a term of appointment of no more than six years after serving as a Lecturer for six years.
10. Standards for Promotion from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer
Because a Lecturer serves the Department principally as a teacher, a candidate for promotion must demonstrate sustained excellence in teaching over a number of years, as documented by standard course evaluations and annual reviews conducted by the program. In addition, those seeking promotion to Senior Lecturer must show a record of public presentation of research or scholarship, as evidenced in peer reviewed articles or books, exhibits, digital scholarship, or works of fiction, poetry, and art. In addition, a candidate for promotion must demonstrate long-term commitment to the Department as evidenced by a record of service including participation in its administration and undergraduate and graduate advising.
The candidate will be responsible for assembling a dossier to be reviewed by a committee, appointed by the Chair of tenured members of the faculty. This dossier should include current vitae, samples of work, syllabi of courses taught, and teaching evaluations from the past three years. Upon recommendation of the review committee, the tenured members of the Department will vote to approve or reject the candidate's application for promotion to Senior Lecturer.
11. Ranked Criteria to be used in Reviewing Applications for Promotion to Senior Lecturer
A. Sustained excellence in teaching, as evidenced in teaching evaluationscollected over the three years previous to application for promotion.
B. Ability to serve the Department's needs in interdisciplinary teaching and advising of students at undergraduate and advanced levels.
C. Scholarly publications in the candidate's major field of research.
D. Professional achievements in fields related to the candidate's teaching or areas of expertise, such as participation in professional societies or presentations at meetings.
E. Recognition by peers in the academic and/or professional community as evidenced in letters, appointments to regional or national organizations, and consultations in work outside Brown University.
Tenured members of the department and Distinguished Senior Lecturers are eligible to vote on the promotion of Senior Lecturers.
12. Standards for the Reappointment of Senior Lecturers
The criteria for the reappointment of Senior Lecturer in order of importance are:
(a) sustained and documented teaching excellence as attested by student and peer evaluations.
(b) service to the department, University, profession, and community.
(c) evidence of professional accomplishments that add value to the teaching of the department. Professional accomplishments may take different forms, e.g. research and scholarship, participation in professional societies in the field of the candidate’s expertise, work on pedagogy, development of instructional materials, participation in professional activities, and so on. Research in American Studies is defined in section G.1., “Governing principles for the review of individual faculty,” and section H.1, “Standards and Criteria for the Comprehensive Review of the Department.”
Reappointment reviews will be conducted using the same process employed for the renewal of Assistant Professors and Lecturers (Section G.5, above). Tenured members of the department and Distinguished Senior Lecturers are eligible to vote on the reappointment of Senior Lecturers.
H. STANDARDS AND CRITERIA FOR THE COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF THE DEPARTMENT
The department of American Studies takes pride in its scholarship, its teaching, and its service. It prioritizes diversity - broadly conceived - in hiring, in graduate and undergraduate education, and in the scope, methods, and reach of the scholarly research its members produce. The department values engagement with a wide range of scholarly and public constituencies and work that has a positive impact on professional and community life at the local, national, and international scale.
Comprehensive reviews of the entire department should, we stress, take the following factors in mind, and be guided, more generally, by the “best practices” outlined by the American Studies Association, the National Council for Public History, and the Imagining America consortium.
The department defines research and scholarship broadly and ambitiously. It includes in this category peer-reviewed articles and academic monographs, as well as digital publications in new media, and publicly-engaged intellectual work in all forms, including exhibits, presentations, talks, documentaries, workshops, community forums, articles, editorials, and essays. It values scholarly contributions to multiple publics inside and outside the university and recognizes the importance of awards and fellowships from a range of scholarly, governmental, and community groups as evidence of achievement and distinction. Finally, it gives greatest weight to those contributions that are, in the best sense of the term, engaged, that have the opportunity to offer serious and sustained impact on and connection with (1) the state of scholarship in American Studies and related fields, on (2) local, national, and international policy and public opinion, and on (3) the well-being of local, national, and international communities.
In assessing these contributions, the department uses a variety of qualitative measures and quantitative metrics. It relies, as is typical, on the sheer number of publications produced in any given three-year period, on the annual enumeration of a citation count or other evidence of national or international circulation, and on an assessment of the quality of the publication venue in any given year. But it also assesses the significance of the collective contribution to scholarship on qualitative terms, placing greatest value on our faculty’s contributions to significant debates within what American Studies has historically defined as important fields or subfields, to ongoing or emerging scholarly or policy debates, or community conversations. When comparing qualitative and quantitative metrics, the department gives more weight to the former, stressing our joint effort to make meaningful - over myriad - contributions.
The department expects excellence in teaching from its faculty. In tabulating this, we look - as many departments do - to regular course evaluations issued by the university and the department. The surest measure of success in and around the classroom, though, is found in the transformation - through scholarship and teaching - of student learners and broader publics into more critically engaged citizens of our community and the world. Measuring that transformation demands the use of qualitative measures. We look for challenging, innovative syllabi, taught at different scales or sizes and with different kinds of learning outcomes. We also look for rigorous classes taught in the core of our various curricula. We look for faculty teaching awards, or recognition from students beyond mere numerical evaluation.
Assessing our undergraduate teaching, we look, just as closely, at other things, too. The quality of honors theses, for example, are useful indicators of the strength of a concentration. Each American Studies and Ethnic Studies student is also required to take stock of their education at the end of the senior year by preparing a digital portfolio of their work and a presentation on that same topic to the entire departmental community.
Finally, the department aims to develop an instrument through which to regularly survey alumnae (ten and twenty years out) to ask them to reflect on the broader impact of Brown’s American Studies and Ethnic Studies degrees on their lives and their ability to influence their professions, communities, and the world at large for the better. The results will be shared with the department and used to reflect on what we are doing and how we might do it better.
Regarding the training of doctoral students - and beyond the teaching of core and elective classes, and service on qualifying exam committees - five specific areas bear watching: (1) the quality and ambition of the dissertation, (2) the time to degree, (3) success in competition for university, national, and international fellowships and awards, (4) success landing positions in the academic and public humanities job markets, and in other professional or public careers, and (5) the speed with which dissertations are published as books that make a substantial contribution to their scholarly field and public debate on their subject.
The mentoring and training of MA students is also of central importance to the department. In addition to the regular evaluation of student work in the classroom, the department measures success by considering both their careers after Brown, and the extent to which a degree from Brown has made a meaningful difference in their lives, and the value of their work to organizations and communities.
Members of the American Studies department will be evaluated for their contributions to a varied group of communities inside and outside of the university. We value service on the committees that govern the department’s day-to-day business, and we value service on university and college-level governance and oversight committees. We value service to the academic profession--through participation in professional organizations and publications, advisory roles in student organizations, and evaluations of departments and organizations in American Studies and related fields at other institutions. Finally, we value service to the community in the form of volunteer work, advisory service, consulting work, and board memberships with local, national, and international government, non-profit groups, arts and humanities organizations, and advocacy or community groups.
Finally, the department is strongly committed to diversity, broadly conceived to include demographic, intellectual, methodological, and subfield diversity. In its reflections on future hiring, curriculum development, student recruitment, and many other matters, it takes this strong commitment into account.