The Geography of Humanities PhDs

THIS POST APPEARS IN FULL ON, THE WORK-IN-PROGRESS BLOG WRITTEN BY MARK GARRETT COOPER AND JOHN MARX. (The embedding of maps in the original post makes it difficult to port over to the MLA Commons, but we invite you to visit our blog to see where humanities PhDs are made.)

Dear John,

While you’ve been convening your think tank, I’ve been engaged in a secret project. Surprise!

Did you ever wonder where (in the US) humanities PhDs are made?

Turns out English PhDs are made everywhere, which comes as little surprise–although a major caveat about what that means exactly below.

Less self-evidently, the maps I’ve generated reveal something of the way universities have been distinguishing themselves by supporting additional PhD programs, such as Film Studies, Religion, and Rhetoric.

It turns out to be remarkably easy, if a bit time consuming, to produce maps of this kind of thing using Google’s Fusion Tables. I simply downloaded the relevant data from the NCES IPEDS Data Center, selected PhD “first” major completions from it, and then uploaded those to Fusion Tables as a csv file. Google’s platform allows one to merge in other data–like the IPEDS information about institutional characteristics that includes the geographical coordinates of reporting institutions. It also allows one to filter and summarize the data in basic ways. It’s not possible to save merged, summarized, or filtered data within Google directly, so any serious manipulation requires a process of downloading and the re-uploading the tables one creates. Once the geo-coordinates are in there, Fusion Tables can make a variety of simple maps, and one can combine them using the Fusion Tables Layer Wizard. After learning a bit about how to add Javascript to posts on our little site here–it’s not perfect!–I can present:

Link to maps: The Geography of Humanities PhDs

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