$500,000 Grant to Promote Digital Humanities Scholarship
When you think of scholarship on Plutarch or Plato’s Dialogues, you may not picture using software to map the social networks of Socrates, but that is just what Dr. Diane Cline, associate professor of history at GW, is doing. Applying computational techniques using the NodeXL tool has enabled Dr. Cline to visualize Socrates’ relationships to various individuals (302) and their extended relationships (688). Traditional humanities scholarship would make this type of analysis a daunting, if not impossible, endeavor.
Digital tools are increasingly being applied to the traditional humanities—art, history, literature, and philosophy—and to cross-disciplinary scholarship to transform our understanding of human culture throughout history. This intersection of computing and traditional methods of inquiry requires new skills, technology, and ways of thinking about research questions. But universities have struggled to support this exciting new humanities work since the knowledge required at a single institution may be limited or part of another discipline such as computer science.
“Resilient Networks to Support Inclusive Digital Humanities (DH),” is a new project that was jointly conceived by Geneva Henry, GW’s dean of libraries and academic innovation and Ben Vinson III, the dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with Rice University, Davidson College, and Prairie View A&M University. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded the project a $500,000 grant to address the challenge of providing diverse perspectives, shared pedagogical approaches, and partnerships between librarians, students, and scholars to advance digital humanities (DH) scholarship. This two-year project will establish a network of institutions to share and build expertise in and support for digital humanities instruction and research.
“Librarians and scholars today work in a rapidly evolving information environment that requires proficiency in research methods and technologies not traditionally part of undergraduate or graduate education in the humanities,” writes GW President Steven Knapp. “The Resilient Networks model will encourage innovation through collaboration across academic disciplines and institutions, bringing together students, scholars, and librarians to share methodologies and technological tools with the goal of advancing knowledge.”
This generous support from the Mellon Foundation will allow faculty, students, and librarians to collaborate to develop shared DH curriculum modules, participate in training opportunities, and form research project teams that include students, faculty, and librarians from across the participating institutions. Providing students with hands-on experience in applying the DH concepts they have learned to a real research endeavor will advance their understanding of both the research methods and computational techniques needed for successful inquiries. We hope to create DH networks that are resilient and diverse, supporting long-term sustainability with minimal new institutional resource investments.