NCPH decided to create a graduate student ad hoc committee for the upcoming annual conference in the hopes that this committee would generate ideas and programming that would pique graduate student interest. Thanks to survey data, NCPH staff have noted the changing demographics of membership and attendence at conferences. While roughly a quarter of NCPH membership are graduate students, those graduate students were roughly thirty percent of attendees at the 2008 annual meeting in Louisville. With such a large (and statistically significant) population as part of the professional constituentcy, the powers-that-be decided to give graduate students more of a voice.
I am thrilled to be involved in that effort and anyone who knows me is familiar with how eager I am to share my opinion, ask questions, or dig in and get my hands dirty. While there will be guest bloggers of various backgrounds posting here, you will see myself and a few other graduate students talking about why we go to conferences, how NCPH informs our professional development, and also some of the nitty-gritty questions many of us had when we first came to a professional conference.
My recent research into the history of tourism (and the fact that I'm rewatching episodes of Mad Men) is moving me to think about this as serving a burgeoning market segment. In terms of the academic and professional community, though, this experiment will hopefully provide another layer of perspective and that can provide us all with the opportunity to slow down and think about where the future of the field is headed from another angle. I'm always in favor of a more complex discussion.