27 November 2023

Reimagining the Astronomy PhD for the 21st Century

Fellows of the National Osterbrock Leadership Program (NOLP)
UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, & Columbia U.

Many aspects of leadership are required for a successful career in science and technology, but few of them are taught formally in graduate school. Based on our own experiences, the graduate student Fellows of the AAS National Osterbrock Leadership Program (NOLP) have crafted a white paper that advocates changes to some of the basic components of PhD programs in astronomy. The white paper will be the focus of a splinter session at the 243rd AAS meeting in New Orleans on Tuesday, 9 January. The session will be led by the Osterbrock Fellows, with all meeting attendees invited. Graduate students and faculty having responsibilities associated with graduate programs are especially encouraged to participate in the discussion.

The white paper has been reviewed by the AAS Board of Trustees who are supporting the dissemination of the document by the NOLP to national graduate programs in astronomy for their consideration. The white paper advocates a broader role for graduate students in official department functions and decisions as a means of optimizing graduate astronomy education in the modern era in which the skills acquired in an astronomy graduate education play an increasingly important role in society. Because of its potential impact on the role of graduate students in department matters, we urge graduate students to make their department heads and advisors aware of the document, and the AAS splinter session, and engage them in discussions about the issues highlighted in the white paper.