The Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate is an interesting project by which programs in fields including Chemistry, English, and Education have engaged in a re-examination of their models for doctoral education. Several participating faculty members have presented their ideas in the recently-published Envisioning the Future of Doctoral Education (2006), but a brief essay with possible significance for LIS education can be found in the current issue of Educational Researcher: Reclaiming Education’s Doctorates: A Critique and a Proposal.
Without going too deeply into the argument, the authors suggest that doctoral education in the field of education (my field, as some of you know) has been “crippled” by the lack of clear distinction between doctoral study aimed at producing education researchers and faculty members (Ph.D.) and that aimed at producing educational leaders in the practice setting (and scholarly practitioners) (Ed.D.). They present an interesting model for what distinct and vital doctoral programs aimed at these different audiences might look like.
Without putting too fine a point on it, their argument about how doctoral study in education as currently conceived does not always serve scholarly practitioners and leaders “in the field” certainly seems applicable to the Ph.D. in LIS (which an increasing number of people who I consider to be excellent examples of the scholarly practitioner seem to be avoiding in favor of doctoral degrees in management studies, higher education administration, and instructional technology). LIS was not one of the fields selected for study by the CID (although I have suggested it to Lee Shulman as something he might consider), but I’d love to see our discussion of the limitations of formal LIS study for those of us in the field taken to the next level through a formal review such as that which the CID has afforded some of these other fields.
So, a “professional practice doctorate” for library leaders? What would it look like, and how would it differ from the current model for doctoral education in LIS? Do we have what Shulman calls a “signature pedagogy” (that’s a tricky one!)?