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Archiver > APG > 2007-11 > 1195446945

From: "Elizabeth Shown Mills" <>
Subject: [APG] BA in Genealogical Studies at Akamai University
Date: Sun, 18 Nov 2007 22:36:33 -0600
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This has developed into a very interesting discussion. I'm late in chiming
end--although I did cross-post Dr. Blount's message, last night, on BCG-L.
While I've been sidetracked elsewhere, the discussion there has been just as
cogent, although in somewhat different direction. As a caveat: the comments
that follow are similar to those I've posted on BCG-L. My cross-posting is
an effort to extend the conversation on a topic that, IMO, is very important
to our field.

Education-wise, as discussions on APG-L over the years have often observed,
we are in a Catch-22 situation. We want to see university-level programs
created in genealogy; but we want them created by colleagues with
credentials *we* value, although those credentials carry little or no weight
in most university settings.

1) To create an academic degree program that can earn accreditation, the
faculty has to meet the requirements that accreditation committees expect.
Typically, that means the terminal degree in the field in which one is
teaching--a Ph.D in most fields or, say, a double-masters in Library and
Information Science (one in LIS and one in a specialization). How many
Certified Genealogists, Accredited Genealogists, or authors of peer-reviewed
journal articles in our field hold a Ph.D. in genealogy--or even history?
Of that small number, how many would be in a position to join the faculty of
Akamai (or any other institution), without conflicting with academic
positions they already hold or professional obligations already committed
to? We offer a very small pool.

2) We genealogists have certain criteria we consider markers of
expertise--as we should. If, say, Akamai were to sign on those individuals
as instructors, that would likely raise *our* opinion of Akamai--but,
because most of those individuals don't hold the Ph.D. in a related field
that accreditation committees expect, Akamai would virtually ensure that its
new genealogy degree program would never be accredited. (As an aside: I was
asked to be an instructor and declined for this very reason. I am willing to
freely give my time and counsel in the background, as questions arise--if
and when it's wanted--but because I do not hold a relevant Ph.D. I would
weaken the program if I were to sign on as an instructor.)

We do tend to look askance at programs whose faculty roster does not include
any of our field's well-known names. We are wisely skeptical when new
programs surface. Certainly, the first thing we look for is
accreditation--but a program must get off the ground before it can qualify
for accreditation.

With new programs, what *I* look for are these points:

1. Is the program working toward certification? Specifically, is it
following the guidelines set for accreditation by the legitimate agency to
which it will apply?

2. Does the program's faculty have the requisite degrees that will enable it
to achieve that certification?

3. Is the program's director actively trying to add qualified genealogists
to its faculty?

4. Is the program's director seeking the expertise of credential
genealogists in developing its program--and is the program's director
actually *listening* to that counsel, as opposed to merely giving lipservice
to the genealogical community.

As we've learned from recent postings:

A. Akamai is a new university whose processes and policies follow DETC
guidelines. An accreditation application is to be submitted shortly.

B. The new program director for the newly planned B. A. in Genealogical
Studies is Dr. Carolyn Earle Billingsley, Course 3 Director at Samford
IGHR--a History Ph.D. and Fulbright Scholar from Rice, whose dissertation in
kinship studies (recently published by U of Georgia Press) is based on her
nearly three decades of study on the Keesee family and its migrations across
the lower U.S.

C. Akamai is actively seeking other instructors with an equally strong
genealogical background who will also meet accreditation standards.

In the meanwhile, when we examine the full faculty of Akamai (a lengthy
roster), we find that roughly 98% *do* hold the terminal degree in their
respective fields. Several have multiple doctorates. To me, that speaks well
for Akamai's intent to not only meet accreditation standards but also to
create respected credentials in each of the fields for which it develops a
degree program.


Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
Hendersonville, TN

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