It is only recently that significant numbers of doctoral students in the traditional humanities fields (history, philosophy, modern languages, etc.) ever expected to have careers outside academia.
The German scholar who chose to go into translation work, for example, generally did not continue toward a doctorate, but after completing at the most an MA applied for work with those agencies in both the private and public sector that needed translators.
For those who continued their work in German on through the doctorate and beyond, it was assumed their careers would be tied in directly with institutions of higher learning.
And for many years, the need for scholars in academia kept pace with the production of scholars.
Not so today. Some, and this view is held by the Washington Humanities Forum, say as many as seven out of 10 humanities scholars must pursue careers outside education. Further, that those mid-level scholars who once expected to move up into larger and more prestigious academic institutions find that the openings just aren't there.
How will these scholars cope? How will they reorient themselves? How will they know where the nonacademic jobs are?
Their traditional contacts - their natural network -- is the world of the academic, not the world of the marketplace or civil service.
Some learned societies are tooling up to meet this need. Even those whose function in the past has been to serve higher education, are finding new career slots for their members.
A report on this growing trend entitled, The Career-Related Services of the Learned and Professional Societies in the Humanities and Social Services, is available for $2 from The American Association for the Advancement of the Humanities, 918 16th Street, Washington, D.C. 20006.