In my most recent podcast episode I talked about the alt-ac career path. I thought I would flesh out those ideas in this blog post and provide plenty of links to the writings of scholars who are doing innovative things in this area.
First of all, what is alt-ac? It’s shorthand for alternative academic careers.
This term was first used in 2010 in a Twitter conversation Bethany Nowviskie and Jason Rhody. The purpose was a pointed pushed against the term non-academic careers, which academics meant to mean anything off the straight and narrow path of tenure.
On Inside Higher Ed, it is described as “an umbrella term to refer to full-time non-teaching and non-research positions within higher education.” These can be staff or administrative positions, and these positions may (and often do) include teaching and/or research duties, but teaching and research are not the primary focus of the position. There are also comparable alt-ac positions beyond campus; many alt-ac types are found among public historians, librarians, museum curators, independent scholars, professional writers, etc.
The point is that it is less about the position than the person in the position. People who do this are still interested in research, publication, and disciplinary conversation. It means that people can still be involved in the academy and publish if they are willing to consider the many different staff and administrative positions available in the academy.