ERIC Number: EJ994866
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Feb-18
Stop Calling It "Digital Humanities"
Chronicle of Higher Education, Feb 2013
A persistent criticism of the digital-humanities movement is that it is elitist and exclusive because it requires the resources of a major university (faculty, infrastructure, money), and is thus more suited to campuses with a research focus. Academics and administrators at small liberal-arts colleges may read about DH and, however exciting it sounds, decide that it ill suits their teaching mission. In fact, teaching-focused colleges have significant advantages over research universities in pursuing the digital humanities. With shallower administrative hierarchies and less institutional inertia, liberal-arts colleges can innovate relatively rapidly and at lower cost. They usually have more collegiality across disciplines and divisions, and between faculty and staff members. It's easier to build coalitions and to organize project teams at small colleges. Because of their teaching focus, they have lighter expectations for faculty research: Faculty members are more likely to be able to experiment with projects that may not lead to traditional scholarly publications. Some liberal-arts colleges even have a culture of faculty-student collaborative research, which translates perfectly into the project-building methods of the digital humanities. And the great variety of missions among liberal-arts colleges allows each of them to develop projects serving communities that might otherwise be neglected. All in all, participating in DH is not more difficult at liberal-arts colleges than at research universities; it simply presents a different set of challenges and opportunities. Since 2008 the author has been part of an effort to build a DH program at a liberal-arts college in the Midwest. In this article, he offers some casual suggestions for program building in this emerging field: (1) Stop calling it "digital humanities"; (2) Show how digital humanities supports the liberal arts; (3) Build a support network with like-minded colleagues; (4) Integrate digital humanities into the curriculum; (5) Show how digital techniques support faculty research; (6) Celebrate the accomplishments of students and colleagues; (7) Seek the support of the higher-ups; (8) Invest in faculty and staff development; (9) Seek external partnerships; and (10) Strive to be a "servant leader".
Descriptors: Humanities, Computer Uses in Education, College Faculty, Teacher Attitudes, Interdisciplinary Approach, Technological Advancement, Scholarship, Cooperation, Research, Teacher Student Relationship, Web Sites, Integrated Curriculum, Social Networks, Interprofessional Relationship
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A