American versus British Ph.D. Programs 美國神學博士班vs.英國神學博士班:三位在學博班生的分享

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American versus British Ph.D. Programs: Three Doctoral Students Reflect on Their Decisions

來源:http://www.sbl-site.org/publications/article.aspx?articleId=723

作者:Chris Keith/Charles J. Otte III/Dieter T. Roth

翻譯:邱慕天(註:中文翻譯為帶有個人語風之譯筆,字句未必完全緊貼原文)

« Are American or British Ph.D. programs better? » This is an important question that numerous graduate students ask every year as they prepare to apply for doctoral studies. However, like so many issues surrounding the decision to pursue doctoral work, there is likely no direct answer to be had. Unfortunately, this lack of a clear answer often leads students and advisors alike to perpetuate unhelpful stereotypes by narrowing the decision to one aspect of it. Instead of offering a myopic view, in what follows three current doctoral students will explain their respective decisions and reflect on those decisions now that their studies are underway. One contributor chose to do a British Ph.D.; another chose to do an American Ph.D.; and a third chose to do the coursework of an American Ph.D. but then transfer to a British program for his research.

美國或英國?這問題已經困擾學生很久了,且每年都會遇到。然而缺乏清晰的分析比較,使得片面的看法和刻板印象長年持續流竄在師生耳語中。這篇讓我們來聽聽三位學生分享他們作決策的心得。三位中一位是選了英國,一位選了美國,還有一位是選擇先在美國修完課,然後轉學到英國作研究論文。

Given the autobiographical nature of this essay, its limitations should perhaps be acknowledged upfront. First, other options for doctoral work (e.g., Canadian or European programs), will not be discussed. Second, the important issue of seminary versus « secular » Ph.D. programs will not receive the attention it likely deserves. Third, admission and financial aid clearly play a large role in any particular student’s available options and decision. However, the contributors will not dwell upon these factors here in order to make this essay as broadly applicable as possible. The specific concern is not the choice of a particular institution but rather a particular style of doctoral program.

這篇文章基本上還是自述性的,它的限制必須在前頭加以說明:1) 加拿大和其他歐洲的學程並不在討論範圍中。2) 神學院vs.自由派一般大學的爭論,儘管也是很重要的議題,但不太會在這篇文章中出現。3) 入學條件和獎學金當然是學生影響作抉擇的重大誘因。但這些案例無法普及到每一位申請者身上,因此撰文者將不會一直在這些點上打轉,以確保文章有較為廣泛的實用價值。重點不是在某間學校,而是兩種文化下的不同學術型態。

(Chapel, U of Edinburgh)

Despite these three obvious limitations, the contributors hope that this essay will help both students who are in the process of applying for doctoral work and the faculty members supervising them in their decisions.

講了這些,還是希望這邊文章能對有益申請的學生帶來幫助,也讓老師們更加照顧學生的想法。

一、

Why I Chose a British Ph.D. Program
In considering doctoral work, I applied only to British programs, and did so for a number of reasons. First, I applied to programs based primarily upon a particular scholar with whom I was interested in working and secondarily upon a particular program in which I was interested in working. The scholars with whom I most wanted to work were all employed by British universities. Second, and equally important with the first reason, my wife and I wanted the experience of living in a foreign country/culture. Neither of us had been outside the USA for more than a brief period, our parents were in good health, we had no children and thus little true responsibility, and therefore, at the end of the day, no good excuse not to go abroad. Third, having an undergraduate degree in biblical studies and having completed a Master of Divinity (including having written a Master’s thesis), I preferred to start independent research immediately rather than go through more coursework. I consulted with some professors on campus who agreed that this would be the best option for me. Thus, in the Fall of 2005, my wife and I packed our bags and moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where I commenced a Ph.D. in New Testament and Christian Origins.

我為何選英國

我選英國,因為1) 我選校的首要考量是要跟對人,其次才是學科和課程。我想跟的人全在英國大學。2) 和第一點同樣重要的是,我太太和我都很想去體驗異國文化和生活。我們從來沒有長時間走出美國。我們的爸媽都很健康,我們沒有小孩,因此談不上什麼生活負擔。這樣就沒有理由不出國啦。3) 我大學念聖經本科,之後又修畢了一個道學碩士(還加一篇碩士論文),到博士班我已經不想再修一堆課了,想儘快開始作自主研究才是王道。我問過的老師都同意這個看法。於是2005年秋天,我和我太太就整裝出發前往蘇格蘭愛丁堡,開始我的「新約和基督教起源」博士研究生涯。

On the eve of my final year of doctoral work at the University of Edinburgh, I can say with no hesitation that I have never regretted my decision to study in a British Ph.D. program, and certainly not my specific decision to come to the University of Edinburgh. I must stress, however, that my satisfaction with Edinburgh is a direct reflection of the fact that I (and my wife) approached this process as a holistic decision. That is, while the academic environment is stimulating and fruitful and my supervisors are excellent, equally important is the opportunity to go, for example, to Rome for a short vacation, to London for a couple nights, or to the Scottish Highlands for the weekend. Doing the Ph.D. is clearly the most important aspect of anyone’s doctoral experience, but it is not the only aspect of it, and I would encourage those in the decision-making process to think not just about the academic issues but also about what type of life you want for you and/or your family while in the program.

在準備進入愛丁堡大學最後一年的博士學業的此時,我可以肯定地說我對自己的選擇毫不後悔。這並非單指愛丁堡大學而言,我必須強調,我在愛丁堡能如此酣暢地學習,完全是因為我們在選校之時作了周全的考量。就先不論這裡學術環境是多麼有啟發性、老師們有多優秀了,講白一點,沒事就來個羅馬假期,或到倫敦、蘇格蘭高地逗上幾天、調劑身心,這才是重點。念博士不是只有讀書,奉勸各位選校時除了課業考量之外,也要好好思考你和你的家人想要的生活形態,

The lack of formal coursework has been a tremendous advantage for me in particular, as has the freedom to work at my own pace with occasional meetings with my supervisor(s). This fosters a professional environment, where the faculty treats the student more like an independent researcher than a student per se (which often results in students having the confidence and ability to publish journal articles while still technically students). Worth noting, however, is that this less-supervised study environment seems to be a disadvantage for other students. Some students work best when left alone; other students work best with external pressure that a classroom setting can provide. When asked, I have often compared the British Ph.D. to being thrown in the deep end of the pool — you sink or you swim, but it is up to you.

沒有形式上的課表,對我來說是一項大利多,我可以按照自己的步調作研究,並和指導教授偶爾會面。這個制度有助於滋養專業的學術風氣,老師以一個獨立研究員的身份看待學生,而不只是學徒。(這有助學生在學時期時就能養成勇於發表的信心和能力)。然而值得注意的是,對一些學生而言,指導教授放得太鬆並不是一項好事。有的學生適合獨立,有的人則需要教室的學習環境給予他外在的壓力。我常把英國的博士班比喻為深水池子,學生被丟進去,沈浮則全看自身造化。

My one lament about the British program is the lack of formal training in modern research languages (e.g., German or French). Students are expected to prove competence in these languages in their thesis, but no official structure exists for language acquisition. Also, in practice, it seems, different schools adopt different strategies on how they enforce demonstration of that competence. What the British system lacks in formal structure, however, it makes up for in research training, and this has been the most advantageous option for me.

英國制度美中不足的一點是,它們對當代研究語言(如德文和法文)的能力培養缺乏正規形式。學生在他們的論文中要展現這方面的語文能力,但這兒沒地方給他們學。再加上,不同學校在這些語文方面的要求和標準也不一而足。不過呢,英國大學對研究能力的訓練很是出色,這點跟我再對味不過了,因而也彌補了他們在其他學程制度結構上的不足。

Chris Keith, University of Edinburgh 克里斯.凱實於愛丁堡大學

edinburgh-84

二、


Why I Chose an American Ph.D. Program
I just completed my first year in a Ph.D. program in Northwest Semitic Philology at the University of Chicago; if all goes as planned, this will become a joint program with the Linguistics department. Very early in my college career I became entranced by the siren song of doctoral education. Because most of my early influences had done their doctoral studies abroad in places like Sheffield, Aberdeen, and Israel, I naturally began to dream of studying abroad for my Ph.D. (during Seminary I even visited a couple of schools overseas). The decision, therefore, to matriculate in an American Ph.D. program was all the more surprising. However, I made the decision deliberately for reasons that will become clear.

我為何選擇美國

我剛在芝加哥大學博士班完成我在「西北閃米語言文獻學」學程的第一年學習。如果一切順利按照計畫,我可以得到一個語言學系的雙聯學位。早在剛進大學時我就充滿著對博士學習的嚮往。然而因為早期影響過我的前輩們都在博士時出國留學,例如到雪菲爾德、亞伯丁、以色列這些地方,我當時也自然而然懷著這樣的留學夢(神學院期間我甚至參觀了不少間海外的學校)。之所以會留在美國念博士,其實是個頗為出乎意料的決定。然而這決定經過深思熟慮判斷的,我會在底下將理由說明清楚。

Those who were kind enough to advise me in the process of applying for and selecting a Ph.D. program repeated a single refrain: location does not matter. By this, they meant that I should not be concerned with where a school was or with what its ostensible reputation was, but rather with the scholars and the program itself. They encouraged me to focus on finding a program that fit and a scholar I would like to emulate. This advice proved prescient in my case because it allowed me to go beyond my own desire to study overseas and find a graduate program that fit me best, a program that I absolutely love.

在我決策過程,給過我建議的人都重複著一句話:山不在高、水不在深,在哪唸書地點一點都不重要。他們的意思是,我不該讓學校地理位置或是它的表面學術風評給牽著鼻子走,教授學者和課程才是重心。他們鼓勵我找尋適合的課程,還有想要師法的學者。這些建議果然是有先見之明,他們讓我不再執著於出國留學,進而找到自己真正適合、並且喜愛的研究所。

The key factor for me in finding a Ph.D. program was the ability of a program to help me bridge the gap between my own level of preparedness and the body of material that I needed to master. This was critical because it allowed me to hold in abeyance other considerations until I had the academic and professional component resolved. This required a lot of honesty and a lot of foresight, but I truly believe this is essential to successful graduate work. I made up my mind about the broad shape of my academic goals and asked professors where and with whom I might be able to achieve those goals.

我搜尋博士班的關鍵點在於它們課程是否能幫助我銜接我現有的程度及所學,並通往我所打算精通的領域專業。在把其他次要考量納入之前,學術專業的部分必須先搞定。誠實、遠見都是決策過程的關鍵,而這些特質一樣是通往成功研究道路的不二法門。當我清楚了自身未來學術志業的藍圖後,我才開始向教授們請教哪裡是適合我的地方。

I knew that I wanted to combine Semitic Philology and Modern Linguistics in a thorough and rigorous manner. I had a strong background in biblical studies and history and a reasonable amount of preparedness in Semitics, but no formal background in linguistics in my undergraduate or Seminary studies. As I looked at programs, they had to be able to accommodate this reality. While British programs were very willing to let me pursue interdisciplinary work, they could not provide the coursework necessary to lay a strong foundation in linguistic theory. This foundation was something they expected to be in place before arriving. Semitic philology requires the mastery of a large number of languages, and linguistics requires a strong theoretical base before significant research can be undertaken. British programs expect the student to be prepared to enter into the research stage immediately. I was not. I had several languages left to learn (though I already had research German prepared) and all of my linguistic theory to master. I felt that this was more than could reasonably be accomplished in three years. My Seminary work, while related to my ultimate academic goals, did not directly prepare me for my primary academic focus at the Ph.D. level. This need for further coursework weighed heavily against British programs. (My inability to speak or read Israeli Hebrew made it unrealistic to consider Israeli programs.)

我的期盼是透過嚴謹的治學方式來結合閃語文獻學和現代語言學。我在聖經研究和歷史方面都有足夠底子,閃米語也有不錯的造詣。但是大學和神學院期間我都沒有受過正規的語言學訓練。因此我理想的學校必須要能夠補足這點。英國的大學儘管非常歡迎也支持跨領域研究,卻無法在課程上提供扎實的語言學理論教學。他們期待的是學生在入學之前便已經具備了這些學理基礎。閃米文獻學和語言學互為經緯,讀閃米文獻學需要精通許多語言,語言學則為文獻資訊的整合提供能夠一以貫之的理論框架。英國博班期待學生一進來就是即戰力,能立刻研究上手。我不是,我還有好幾種語言要學(儘管我已經具備了學術德文),語言學理論也尚待專精。有這一堆東西要搞,我覺得自己大概無法三年準時畢業。我在神學院所學儘管與我的學術終極目標相去不遠,卻無法直接給我在博士班的學術研究重心作支撐。總之,我還需要修課,英國學校在這點上的不足大大扣分。(我不會說也不會讀現代希伯來文,不然的話以色列本來很值得考慮的。)

Science_And_I (U of Chicago Neighborhood)

By contrast, American programs require three or four years of coursework during which time the student masters the relevant languages, histories, and, in the case of Semitic Philology, archaeological frameworks necessary for research. This structure appealed to me because it shifted pressure to acquiring the requisite skills of my field before trying to work toward the dissertation. Moreover, I work much better under external deadlines and with external pressures to study and achieve than I do with internal pressures. Because of this, the regular deadlines of American programs appealed to me.

相反地,美國博班要求修課三到四年,期間讓學生得以通曉所需的語言、歷史。就閃語文獻學而言,還包括研究必須的考古學知識。這個制度很吸引我,這樣我在寫論文前只要專心修課,累積研究實力和技巧就行了。再者,我是那種有人逼你,才會表現更好的人;因此,有明確期限(不管是報告交件或考試)的美國博班更對我胃口。

One further consideration in my decision was the aesthetics of the Ph.D. experience. My wife and I both love to travel, and we have both spent considerable time overseas. For this reason, the prospect of studying in places such as Edinburgh, Cambridge, or Tübingen appealed to our aesthetic sensibilities and engendered excitement rather than anxiety. After all, contrary to conventional wisdom, there is more to life as a student than studying. However, academic matters ultimately outweighed this consideration. Nevertheless, Chicago compensates for the missed overseas experience with its cosmopolitan vibe and the University’s neo-gothic flair. Ultimately, I think the key to enjoying the Ph.D. experience is tuning into the life and culture of the city/region where the school happens to be located, regardless of the continent.

其它的考量,應該就是讀博士班時的美感經驗了。我太太和我都喜歡旅遊,我們都曾經在海外住過。因此,我先前的理想學校,例如愛丁堡、劍橋、圖賓根,都能觸動我的美學神經,給我帶來的是興奮之情而非學術焦慮。總之,和傳統觀念不同,在那邊地方過的應當是校園學生生活,而不是作爆肝研究。經過天人交戰,我對學術成就的渴望還是壓過了對生活品質的追求。不過,芝加哥的大都會脈動和芝大歌德式建築的寫意多少彌補了未能涉足海外的缺憾。總之不管在哪一洲,我認為進入博士班如魚得水的關鍵,還是在於學生生活和在地文化必須調適得和諧一致。

Charles J. Otte III, University of Chicago 查爾斯 J. 奧提三世於芝加哥大學

University_Chicago (U of Chicago)

三、

Why I Chose To Start in an American Ph.D. Program and Finish in a British One
The final possibility considered in this article is that of completing the doctoral coursework of an American Ph.D. program and then writing a thesis in a British Ph.D. program, which is in fact the route that I have chosen. After completing the coursework for the doctoral program in Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary, I am now writing my thesis at the University of Edinburgh in New Testament and Christian Origins. Regardless of whether this option strikes you as a wonderful opportunity to glean the best of both academic worlds or an awkward, and likely uncomfortable, attempt to straddle not merely a fence but an entire ocean, the challenges and benefits of this option are worth considering.

我為何選擇在美國博班修課,又轉到英國完成論文

本文提供的最後一個選項就是在美國修課,然後到英國完成論文。這也是我選擇的方式。我在西敏神學院的博士班修畢「詮釋學與聖經解釋」的課程後,目前轉戰愛丁堡大學的「新約與基督教起源」學程進行論文。你或許會覺得這個選項天衣無縫地揉合了兩家學術之長,也可覺得這個腳踏兩條船,不、腳跨兩大洲的企圖是怪誕不羈 ;但不論如何,它的利弊就讓各位看倌來自由權衡。

First, it is readily apparent that there are a few drawbacks to this approach. It must be admitted that this option requires the most paperwork as I endured not one, but two rounds of applications to doctoral programs. In addition, it requires multiple relocations as my family and I moved within the U.S. to begin a Ph.D. and then headed overseas to finish. Finally, at this point I do not plan to write two doctoral theses; since I completed only part of an American program, I will ultimately receive a degree only from the University of Edinburgh (though it should be noted that one could be ABD [all but dissertation] from the American institution if comprehensive exams are taken before coming overseas). These issues alone may be enough to dissuade some from this option; nevertheless, there are certain situations in which the path I have trodden is not only worth considering, but actually may be advantageous.

醜話說在前頭,這方法的不便之處是顯而易見的。光是申請兩次博士班所需要繳交的作業文件就夠你受的了,家人還得搬來搬去跟著你受罪。最後呢,因為我並沒有寫兩份博士論文的打算,因此只有愛丁堡會給我博士學位(不過,假如你在原本的學校修完課、考過資格考的話,他們是會給你博士候選人的資格證明的)。有些人看到這裡應該就打退堂鼓了吧,不過接下來說明的,相信能證明我走過的這條路不僅值得一試,甚至還是利多於弊的。

Without a doubt, my own doctoral work experience has allowed me to have both a broader exposure to my field through doctoral coursework in the U.S. and a more extensive research experience by writing my thesis in the U.K. This amalgam of different contexts for Ph.D. work may prove particularly attractive to students who may wish, for whatever reason, to pursue coursework beyond the Masters level in a theological or seminary context, but may desire to write their thesis in a research university or secular context. As this was the case for me, I am able to draw not only from the benefits of academic work in multiple doctoral contexts, but also from academic work in multiple approaches to religious studies. However, even if a shift of approaches from a theological to a secular context is not of interest for you, I would still consider the ability to develop a more extensive knowledge of a field through a specific curriculum of Ph.D. coursework and then move into an extended and focused time of research in Britain as potentially quite attractive in preparing for future research work and the classroom.

毫無疑問地,我的博士歷程讓我在自己的專業領域中結合了美國課程的廣度和英國研究的深度。對那些希望能夠在正統神學院得到超越碩士層級的修課經驗、又想在世俗研究圈子寫研究論文的人,這樣橫跨脈絡的結合應該有很大的吸引力。對我來說,不僅是學術內容的廣博,學術方法的多元視角更是帶給我很大的幫助。就算你對於從神學方法轉到世俗研究方法不感興趣,我也會勸你從未來研究和教學的需求面來思考,藉由博士課程培養專業領域的學識廣度,然後在英國有一段較長時間專心致志作研究、挖掘深度。

In addition, enrolling in and completing Ph.D. coursework in the American context, as opposed to a shorter program of study such as a Th.M., allowed faculty members to evaluate my work on the doctoral level, which proved beneficial for the requisite recommendations as I applied to British universities. Although gaining admission to top-ranked doctoral programs will always be challenging, I am quite confident that the narrowing and focusing of my research interests in doctoral coursework (of tremendous value in developing my thesis proposal) and the recommendations of faculty evaluating my work on a Ph.D. level contributed to my having multiple offers of admission in the U.K. This situation afforded me, and my family, the luxury of being able to mull over all relevant considerations in evaluating which offer of admission to accept.

此外,在美國完成博士課程,讓老師有更多機會就博士層級來評估我的學術表現,進而也幫助我達到申請英國博士時的入學要求,這是一年短期的神學碩士所難以提供的優勢。儘管要被頂尖學府錄取是相難困難的,但我申請英國卻是錄取通知書收到手軟。我相信這是我在博班計畫性地專注修課(對後來撰寫博士論文大綱帶來莫大幫助),以及與我在博班互動的老師們給予強力背書所帶來的申請優勢。我等於拿了一手好牌,可以跟家人一同決定前往押寶的地方。

(Westminster Theological Seminary)

As is so often the case, whether a « split context » model of Ph.D. work is attractive to you is largely dependent upon your own interests as a student and the future direction you envision for your academic work. For those who, like me, are interested in drawing on the strengths of multiple approaches to doctoral work, an international academic experience, and the possibility of integrating doctoral coursework with extensive research experience in future work or classroom instruction, it may very well be worth considering the attempt to take advantage of the experience and knowledge gained through completing both U.S.- based coursework and a Britain-based thesis.

當然,這種「博士班斷層組合」的好壞是見仁見智,端看你個人的學習型態和未來的學術目標。我這種人喜歡多元進路、學術有國際觀、希望在未來教學研究上能夠既深且廣,如果你跟我一樣,就可以來考慮這種在美國修課、英文寫論文的博士學歷。

Dieter T. Roth, University of Edinburgh 狄耶特 T. 洛實於愛丁堡大學

edinburgh-85

(U of Edinburgh Neighborhood)

Conclusion
So, are American or British Ph.D. programs better? The short answer is a deliberately ambiguous « Yes. » Each of the contributors to this essay made his respective decision for different reasons. Hopefully, however, a common denominator has emerged in the course of their individual reflections. Some students will benefit more from an American program; others will benefit more from a British program. The most important criteria in making a decision between the two are knowing what type of student you are, what type of preparation you have had for doctoral research, and what type of overall doctoral experience you (and your family) desire. The contributors hope that their experiences will be beneficial as you make your decision regarding which program will suit you best.

結論

美國還是英國博班好?硬要回答就是「是」,等於沒回答。本文作者們選擇各異,也有各自己的理由。但願,經由他們的分享,你們可以獲得一個共識的雛形。有人適合美國,有人適合英國。最重要的就是要瞭解自己是哪一種類型的學生、你既有的學術底子如何,以及你(和你的家人)渴望的是哪一種整體學術生活環境。希望他們的經驗分享能幫助你擇你所愛,愛你所擇。

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