As I head into the field, I know I am not alone. Several overlapping circles of community come with me: the cohort of Mellon Public Scholars, staff and faculty mentors at UC Davis, and a community partner I trust.
It has been enormously educational to hear how my cohorts are navigating both the logistics of their summer projects as well as the larger questions of who they want to be in relationship to the academy and the publics with whom they engage. We have discussed “Alt-Ac” career paths at length, many folks expressing concern over the prospects of securing conventional tenure track jobs. Sometimes I can’t tell how much we are driven by fear of the job market or by hope for more interdisciplinary, meaningful and applied careers. Regardless, the conversations about what kind of future we want to prepare ourselves for have been thoughtful, engaged, and complicated. Those discussions have fueled a greater sense of community, and I am reassured that, as I bumble forward, I will have camaraderie along the way.
Similarly, it is an enormous privilege to have the backing of professional staff and faculty at the Davis Humanities Institute and UC Davis more broadly who will support such bumbling along. Having folks who can speak from experience and will cheerlead along the way is priceless.
Having a solid home base also allows me to fully engage with the communities around my summer project. On top of that, I could not ask for a better guide than my main collaborator, the Project Director for Cal Ag Roots.