There is more news than I can reasonably relate here. My graduate program was under review this week and I was the rebel at the program review. Everyone there wass so worried that the program will be dissolved that they weren’t willing to express any discontent. So I was the nasty, negative Nelly, even though I did my best to be mellow.

I sort of hate myself for it because one of the main defenders of the program is a grad student who I consider a friend and greatly respect. I’m not sure why she is so defensive about the program, but considering that her adviser is one of the few that really identify with this discipline, I guess I can understand her feelings. I feel that having a PhD in an “interdisciplinary” program with an adviser who doesn’t identify with your main field of study is dangerous if you hope to attain a position in academia.

Meanwhile I have been making appointments with various professors outside of my program to try to either identify possible committee members or get some advice about possible PhD programs to apply for. It’s quite clear that I am a rebel and misfit here so it won’t hurt to attempt to find another program in which I feel more at home. On the other hand, it has become fairly clear that I could get through the PhD program here with very little objection by my committee members.

I’m fairly confident that I could identify committee member that would sign off on almost anything I wrote. In fact, in my three years here I have never gotten more than a sentence or two in response to a paper submitted. I have no doubt that I could continue to approval for whatever work I turn in. In fact, the first professor I discussed my dissertation idea with basically claimed that there were two ways for advisers to relate to their PhD students: some advisers that read drafts of each chapter and some advisers that only read a penultimate draft of the dissertation. This was highly useful information for me, because if I was getting useful feedback on my writing in my classes I could see not asking my adviser to read several drafts of the diss, but considering the fact that I have been in grad school for three years and have yet to get any helpful editing, I just don’t feel comfortable with working for years without feedback.

My point is that I have now talked to five different professors and it’s basically a tie as to whether I should remain in my current program or apply to new programs. It may be that the votes have to do more with each person’s point in their career than anything else. It seems that the two youngest professors I talked to suggested that I might be happiest applying to new programs while the oldest two thought it wouldn’t make much difference to my career where my degree came from. The prof I’m TAing for this quarter was a sort of abstainer, admitting that while there are some good reasons to move on, the practical considerations of staying put are not to be discounted.

So far I have consulted a landscape architect, a rural sociologist, two American Studies professors, and an English professor. None of these people identify with the official field of my current program and almost all of them suggested programs in their own fields. I know this is just because they are suggesting programs that they are familiar with, but it’s really not helpful.

So I’m obsessing about what sorts of programs I should apply to and avoiding doing any grading be continually surfing grad program sites. Currently I’m considering programs in geography, landscape architecture, environmental planning, history of science, science and technology studies, history of architecture, and American studies. I could look into program in environmental anthropology, environmental sociology, art, or environmental studies, but I don’t think these are right for me. (I have to draw the line somewhere!)

On the positive side, everyone is very supportive about my dissertation idea, but on the negative side no one seems to know where it belongs. I’m taking comfort in the fact that they think it’s “cutting edge” and “innovative.”