The Interdisciplinary Humanities Center held a roundtable symposium yesterday, the first lecture in its “Future of the University” series.

The event, “The Future of Graduate Education in the Humanities,” consisted of a panel discussion about the innovative graduate programs being developed at UCSB. The new projects are meant to refute recent criticism that graduate education has become too specialized, rendering it irrelevant on a larger scale.

While Dean David Marshall admitted that many problems within the UCSB graduate education program stem from budgetary issues, he also said the conflicts are not limited to the local level.

“There are national issues too … that affect not just public education or the [University of California] schools,” Marshall said.

According to Marshall, the changing demographics in undergraduate education continue to affect graduate education programs.

“It’s really important for us now to think beyond the current [situation],” Marshall said. “It’s important, particularly for UCSB, to think about what we want to look like when we come out of this.”

When looking to the future, Marshall said he urges students to consider different bureaucratic possibilities and develop new models for graduate education that take an interest in collaborative research between graduate students and professors. He said this new model of graduate education creates a “humanitarian lab” approach that integrates graduate student training with dissertation work.

English Dept. Chair Alan Liu said the graduate program at UCSB must now think of institutional ways of developing programs that allow graduate students to work across different disciplines.

“[We must] reinterpret what entrepreneurship means,” Liu said.

Moreover, Marshall said UCSB is working to create a competitive edge to stand apart from other graduate educational programs, and in so doing, increase recruitment into its own graduate program.

“[It’s] complicated, but we have a tremendous advantage because of what we have already created,” Marshall said.

Comparative literature professor Susan Derwin said students in UCSB’s graduate program have the advantage of aggressive advising along with combined disciplines.

“The strength of the comparative literature department is the collaborate effort … the way in which students and faculty work together,” Derwin said. “There is potential to increase this effort across campus.”

According to Derwin, this initiative approach to education has proven successful thus far. Derwin said the department has seen a 100 percent placement rate in the job market within the past four years, with graduates going to institutions including Yale University, Dartmouth College and Johns Hopkins University.