APG-L ArchivesArchiver > APG > 2007-02 > 1170724173
Subject: Re: [APG] Genealogy Straw man - academic discipline
Date: Tue, 06 Feb 2007 01:09:33 +0000
I appreciate the effort you are putting forth and I am sure that your final results will be valuable. I want to briefly share my experience in graduate school. My intention as I went through a Masters program in psychology was to eventually teach psychology at a junior college in my geographic area. In the course of creating a thesis topic I settled on:
The Transformational Power of Genealogy: Know your Ancestors, Know your Self
In the end I realized that my real interest is in family systems/genealogy, not general psychology. I strayed away from teaching for a number of reasons, but if I could teach: genealogy, genograms, family systems analysis, families in history, transgenerational transmission, or any number of related topics, I would be ecstatic.
> I lean towards making the G-word a scientific academic discipline, but
> have also received inquiries about "art vs science", including whether
> we are talking about an MA or an MS as a goal in post graduate degrees.
I understand your thinking and yet in my experience there is so much more to the academic study of family history than the science. Science is reductionist and by its nature tends to eliminate the humanistic. In science, if it is not duplicable in the lab it is not generally a valid hypothesis. The scientific approach eliminates the feeling, thinking, unpredictable nature of human beings. Science and the scientific method are but one small component of the study of family history. So much of what we encounter in the course of research cannot be explained rationally, but that does not mean it is not true or valid. The nature of family life, which includes religion, the natural world, economics, war, and migration to name a few overarching factors, means that a qualitative approach is as necessary as the quantitative. For a great example you can read a recent journal article by Dr. Brad Gregory, Professor of Religious History at Notre Dame: "The Other Confessional History: O!
ar Bias in the Study of Religion", in History and Theory: Studies in the Philosophy of History, Vol. 45, no. 4, December 2006.
Basically, he states that reductionist theories about what religion meant to reformation era christians has produced some biased accounts about religious beliefs and believers. Dr. Gregory suggests the question: "What did it mean to them?" as an approach that might allow the historical figure to recognize themselves in the modern writings of historians. This is a highly oversimplified explanation since it is a very well thought out, scholarly article, but I would highly recommend the article to all genealogists.
I believe an interdiciplinary approach will be the key to genealogy entering academia. I created my own masters program within a cohort. I worked with a cohort of four women for the full two years and we were part of a larger class of twelve students who met once a week. We all left with masters of psychology degrees, but with vastly different interest areas. One person completed coursework/thesis in a little over two years, but for most of us it was a three to four year process. We worked very hard. We each mastered our topic. It is possible to get an advanced degree in genealogy right now at any number of institutions, but it will take some creativity. I hope that some other genealogists will eventually create their own graduate degrees (I know there are already a few of us). However, I do not want to diminish the need for a graduate program.
At one time I considered getting a Ph.D. at Union Institute, a largely off-campus course of study, which allows students to complete a degree program and still have a life. I do not have any affiliation with Union, but I offer this as one example of what may be available for prospective students. The program in psychology is self-designed and if i were to enter that program I would pursue a Ph.D. in psychology with coursework and dissertation focused on genealogy.
Genealogy as an academic discipline needs advisors with advanced degrees. If we wish for genealogy to enter the academic world a few of us need to get advanced degrees in currently approved disciplines, but with an eye towards the future of genealogy as its own field of study. Then we need to be willing and able to teach.
Many courses and interest areas develop in a school based on who is in the department. My thesis advisor was renowned ecopsychologist, Mary Gomes. As a result of her being in the department there was a strong lean towards ecopsychology and she did not teach any of the mainstream courses like Intro to Psych or Abnormal Psych. The University recognized the value in attracting students interested in ecopsychology and they exploited the unique situation of having a famed ecopsychologist on the staff. When one history/sociology/psychology/anthropology department gets one or two dedicated, maybe renowned, genealogists who are interested in "steering" the department towards genealogy, the same "publicity" will happen. Genealogists will flock to the school and future professionals in other fields will come to accept genealogists as their peers. IMHO ;-)