Oct 17 2011

From Projects to Program

Do you have a Digital Humanities Center on campus?  A major or certificate?  A course?  Or, as is more common, a collection of scattered projects that occur on an ad hoc basis, in different departments under different funding models, with very little continuity or memory of the past?

I’d like to talk about the process of moving from scattered, individual projects to a more fully supported (and supportive) DH program.  Has this process happened on your campus?  If not, what are the major obstacles?  If you do have an established center or program, how did you bring together campus support?  What were the pitfalls?  What would you do differently?

Is a formal DH center or program always a good idea?  Does creating a “center” also create boundaries in negative ways?  Does a having DH program/center/discipline start to shape the research question?  Is it best to keep DH inquiry on an ad hoc, agile basis?  (You can see that I’m full of questions!)

I see this as both a general discussion and a writing session: attendees could possibly leave with a concrete plan, suggested actions, or even a list of what not to do.

About the author

Amanda Rust

I'm an English & Theatre librarian working both with very traditional information formats and experiences as well as translating those to new spaces in (hopefully!) fruitful ways. Interested in preservation of cultural artifacts, interactive design, new media, public & digital humanities, and higher ed.

Permanent link to this article: http://newengland2011.thatcamp.org/10/17/from-projects-to-program/


  1. elizabethcornell

    I love this idea. My school, Fordham University, has no formal program for grad or undergrad students.

    There is, however, a formal DH initiative at my school, but it is tiny. The department chairs and most of the teachers don’t have a clue as to what they need to establish a DH dimension in the major requirements or course curriculum.

    If a DH “center” existed on campus, they wouldn’t really know how to use it. This does not mean they are afraid of DH or not interested. They just don’t know what to ask for from DH, how to use it in their own research, or how to assess the work of their students and colleagues.

    In addition to addressing the questions you raise above, I’d like to figure out ways to approaching some of these challenges of simply moving people toward seeing why they might need and how they might use a DH center or department in their school or organization.

  2. Amanda Rust

    I think there’s some interesting overlap with this session, and that poster articulated better than I the concerns I have about locking oneself into only an ad hoc or only a programmatic approach.

  3. Elli Mylonas

    Brown has had a digital humanities group since 1994, when it was called humanities computing. We’ve never been a real, stand alone, funded center. We started out as part of the computing organization and are now part of the library. The library had also been active in DH and DL activities starting at about 2000. We are still not a stand alone funded center. However, we are very blended group in the library, and we have recently acquired two new colleagues – an e-science librarian and dh librarian (who’s attending THATCamp). The vision that we are being asked to function under is one where dh permeates the library.

    On the whole, I like this, but it’s worth discussing what it really means, and how to get there. Molly Ruggles proposed a session on recognizing and capturing the knowledge of pre-digital scholars. Is this another factor?

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