Some units have reached out to their peers across campuses to improve their programs.
Labor & Employment Relations: Our unit launched a multi-campus doctoral consortium of peer programs (at Cornell U., Michigan State U., MIT, U. Minnesota, and Rutgers U.) in 2008. At least once per academic year (we are now moving at a clip of once per semester), students may participate in a doctoral seminar offered by a faculty member of a participating institution. The seminars are offered using video conferencing technology on a synchronous basis. Students may take the course on a noncredit or credit basis. In the latter case, an Illinois LER student would take independent study credits under the supervision of an LER faculty member. The seminars often include a variety of faculty members as guest speakers from participating institutions. Students build their professional networks with established researchers and with doctoral students from participating programs.
Theatre: In fall of 2009, our department successfully hosted the first meeting of directors of doctoral programs in theatre and performance studies in North America. With nearly forty doctoral programs represented, the conference provided a timely venue for directors to frankly discuss the challenges and opportunities facing current doctoral students in the field. At the end of the conference, the Consortium of Doctoral Programs in Theatre and Performance Studies was formed. The group has continued to meet, and its momentum has started a national conversation on doctoral training in the field. For instance, as a result of the UIUC meeting, the American Society for Theatre Research (the flagship association for the field) initiated the formation of the New Paradigms Committee (of which our faculty Esther Kim Lee is a member) with the purpose of providing financial support to doctoral programs undertaking curricular revision or professional development projects.