The Adaptive Academic: Building Skills and Leadership Culture Beyond the University

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association 51st Annual Convention (Boston, MA)
contact email: 

Graduate programs are primarily configured to equip students with the tools to thrive within an economy of knowledge production, but such a pedagogical framework takes for granted the structural inclusion of opportunities for developing competencies that are corollary to academic skills. Many of these competencies—planning and organization, collaborative management, transparent communicativeness, fiscal accountability, conflict resolution, stress tolerance, tactful coaching and active mentorship, to name a few—are increasingly being valued as essential for workplace success and leadership. These expanded expectations have made paramount the need to develop skills that can translate to success outside traditional university spaces such as classrooms and academic publications.


While it can be argued that such competencies already have some basis in the rigorous training that academics receive, their inclusion in graduate programs has remained largely incidental rather than foundational; in numerous instances, academics have to seek out training and development opportunities themselves in the form of community activities, unpaid internships, volunteer work, etc. when preparing for the shift from student to professor, professor to administrator, academic to public intellectual, or academic to industry expert. Graduate students and contingent faculty stand especially to benefit from engaged participation in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities--as well as in more well-rounded academic programs--that recalibrate graduate degrees with an ethos that translates to participatory leadership not only within the university but also outside it, as a parallel or even potential counter-narrative to the culture within increasingly corporatized career spaces that prize maximization, productivity, and top-down management above all else.


As such, this roundtable invites participants to address the ways that academics have had to contend with evolving expectations beyond “mere” cutting-edge research leadership in their respective fields. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

> diversifying graduate curricula beyond training for reading, writing, and research proficiencies.

> skill development in grant-writing or fellowship applications for all levels.

> community work or “service to the profession” that might be incorporated into increasingly neo-liberal curricula.

> institutional frameworks in which such pedagogical and co-curricular opportunities are already available.

> finding mentorship and professional connections outside one’s academic program and institution.


Please submit by September 30, 2019 proposals of 250-300 words (with a bio of at most 100 words) on how you intend to address one or more of the talking points above. Please submit through the direct link here:

For any questions or inquiries about the panel, please email Christian Ylagan at For more general inquiries about the Northeast MLA's 51st Annual Convention (Boston, MA; March 5-8, 2020), please email or check the NeMLA website at