GSA President awarded Humanities Without Walls predoctoral fellowship

by GradPost Staff
Monday, February 27, 2017 9:54 AM

This summer, David McIntosh, a Ph.D. student in History and President of the Graduate Student Association at UCSB, will join a cohort of 30 Humanities Without Walls (HWW) fellows from universities and colleges across the country at the first-ever HWW Alternative Academic Career Summer Workshop series in Chicago, Illinois.

The workshop will feature discussions with leaders and experts from public humanities projects, government and non-government organizations, university presses, and learned societies, as well as various non-faculty higher education staff like student service professionals, librarians, archivists, administrators, and development officers. The Humanities Without Walls consortium is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and is based at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities. Fellows are selected based on their broad interdisciplinary interests and capacity to represent a broadened vision of life in the humanities.

David sat down with us to tell us about his career journey from computer nerd to historian, why he chose UCSB, and how Mr. Spock gave him words to live by.


I was positively thrilled! The application was due in October, and I wasn't expecting any word until perhaps February. But on January 4, the Humanities Without Walls Director contacted me with her congratulations that I had been selected. As a graduate student, summer plans are always filled with uncertainty, so it was a terrific way to start the year!


I was previously a professional computer nerd. I was working for the Division of IT Services at my undergraduate alma mater (Miami University in Ohio) when one day, by complete happenstance, I stumbled upon the fact that they offered a class on archaeology. Working for a university was a constant reminder that I did not have a degree of any type, but I always contended that if I decided to enroll, I would choose a major completely different from what I was already doing. My first day of Anthropology 101 awakened a passion that had apparently been hibernating for 30 years. After I graduated, I continued on to graduate school with the intention of becoming an anthropologist. However, as my research interests evolved, I became much more interested in the history of anthropology as a discipline.


There were many considerations, but in the end I based my decision off of the research interests of the History faculty. I study the history of human paleontology in an attempt to identify trends that have shaped the way science and the public understand human origins. There aren't many people with research interests closely aligned with my own, so finding faculty who could speak to this topic with authority was very important to me. Finding these affinities in Professors Terence Keel and James Brooks was very fortunate, and I feel humbled to be surrounded by such remarkable scholars.



My program is extremely supportive of their graduate students and has a very robust framework for ensuring students receive the training they need to become successful scholars and educators. The faculty are engaging, personable, and highly acclaimed. The support staff is better than any I have seen over the course of my academic career spanning four institutions, and our department's Graduate Program Advisor, Darcy, is positively the best on campus.



We will see. There have been various points in my academic career where I had a very clear and precise answer for what lies ahead – or so I thought. It's been a while now since I genuinely stopped viewing my career trajectory as a destination and began to see it as an unending journey. There are many things I want to do in the future including teaching, research, public education and outreach, administration, and maybe even some technology development. I don't know how these will translate into an economically stable career, and I suspect there's always a chance I will decide to start a third career in my 50s, but I find the prospect of an uncertain future and the potential for change invigorating. In the immortal words of Mr. Spock, "Change is the essential process of all existence."