Laying New Lines for Digital Humanities Scholars

Center for Public History + Digital Humanities, Cleveland State University

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Mark Tebeau, Co-Director

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 First, though, a couple words about our context: we are a second-tier state institution with an MA program in history/public history/museum studies, an undergraduate major and teaching licensure, and an active mission of public engagement.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 In this context, DH training means moving beyond training Ph.D. level folks. It obviously focuses on MA generalists and undergrads majoring in history, but also includes future teachers, current teachers through active outreach, and the community more broadly. Indeed, to be able to engage public history audiences in DH requires that we train them in these techniques and ideas. It is not automatic that they understand concepts such as Crowdsourcing or web 2.0, or that these audiences are familiar with basic digital tools.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Like many academic disciplines, the digital humanities has developed its own shorthand and professional idioms as modes of professional discourse, which have an exclusivity that can hinder our ability to teach broader publics, whom we are training to be our constituents.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 I would also note that for many of us, DH training includes training faculty and colleagues at our institutions to appreciate the import of digital humanities to their work, to teaching, and to curriculum.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 As a result of our context and audiences, it is increasingly clear to us that DH programs and certificates can be valuable, but may not be an end of themselves. Indeed, there are many ways to train folks in the concepts of DH that need not involve degrees or formal certificates. These might include traditional courses within a program, professional development workshops ranging from one day to two hours, participation in a DH project (which I think might be the most effective mode of training), and/or continuing education courses. Also, working with volunteers and accepting them into projects can be a powerful venue for training, both future DH practitioners, but also project partners.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Thinking about training as being possible outside the traditional spectrum of recognized university markers (certificates and degrees) and adapting those used in museums or community education also might help us reach audiences that desperately need DH training, such as mid-level staff at cultural organizations and NGOs whose most recent training occurred more than 5 years ago. Creating opportunities for these folks not only allows us to speak to audiences that need DH training (but can’t afford additional degrees, etc.) but also speak to folks who might become our project partners and clients. In other words, by training them, we create a market for ideas.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Additionally, there is endless concern about career paths in the DH, but it seems to me that these mirror broader concerns about career paths in the humanities. What we’ve discovered is that many young history professionals don’t see the value of DH as a field—they are making different choices, about content degrees (MA in history or English) or professional degrees (MA in library science or teaching). The former appear more suited to the generalist, the latter appear more suited for someone who wants a job. Because DH is new, not identifiable as a professional path, and not clearly superior to an MA in a technical discipline because of the ‘humanities’ in digital humanities, the field has somewhat less appeal as an area of study.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 In this respect, our Center focuses on a kind of iterative training that involves project training, seminars, and modest exposure in multiple courses. This builds DH concepts and capacity in a sneaky way; it also highlights how DH remains embedded in larger approaches to knowledge within the disciplines. To us DH is really a multi-disciplinary mode of inquiry, one that should not always be disaggregated from the context of its practice.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 Finally, I would note that outside the DH community there is a great deal of confusion about what exactly we mean by Digital Humanities. In the early stages of developing this field, including its training models, we need to take this context into account—both for our own work as scholars and practitioners but also for the good of our students, helping to carve meaningful careers out for them.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 The Center for Public History + Digital Humanities is situated within the Department of History and the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences; we are currently forging a more formal and permanent relation to our Library.

  1. 12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0
  2. Director (Associate Professor, History tenure track):
    Direct reports:

    1. 13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0
    2. Technology and Projects Director (full-time, soft-money, staff)
      Direct reports:

      1. 14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0
      2. Graduate Assistants (Hist. Dept., Part-time)
  3. Co-Director (Associate Professor, History tenure track):
    Direct reports:

    1. 15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0
    2. Associate: (20 hours, freelance, staff): partners in the community, usually former graduates who continue to work with CPHDH as regular volunteers in the process of their career development and involved in funded projects as short-term freelance staff. This group of key individuals changes as a result of their career and professional situations.
  4. TAH Grant Directors at Educational Service Center (staff):
    Direct reports:

    1. 16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0
    2. Associates (Part-time staff)
  5. Other:
    Partner, CSU Library (20 hours): Trained to specifications of projects; trained to be long-term collaborators; depends on project; varies by project. Our current partners include, among others: Western Reserve Historical Society, Ohio Historical Society, Greater Cleveland RTA, Cleveland Public Art, Neighborhood Progress Incorporated, Cultural Gardens Federation. Each organization generally has one key collaborator, for whom we provide training in aspects of the digital humanities and history. We also seek to integrate staff from partner organizations into the Center in an effort to create seamless and more efficient project management.
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Source: http://mcpress.media-commons.org/offthetracks/part-two-position-descriptions-at-established-and-emerging-digital-humanities-centers/center-for-public-history-digital-humanities-cleveland-state-university/