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As the application of digital tools and methodologies to humanities content and research questions becomes more common, universities are increasingly treating "digital humanities" as something that should be supported at an institutional level, rather than as a silo within humanities divisions. Quinn Dombrowski, co-chair of an ECAR/CNI working group on developing institutional capacity around digital humanities, will present the highlights of the group's forthcoming white paper.

When: Thursday, May 4, 2017 from 12 - 1pm

Where: 200C Warren Hall, 2195 Hearst St (see building access instructions on the parent page)
What: ECAR/CNI framework for building institutional capacity for digital humanities
Presenting: Quinn Dombrowski (Research IT)

For an introduction to the ECAR/CNI working group and its goals, please review these materials prior to the meeting:


Presenting: Quinn Dombrowski, Research IT


Aaron Culich, Research IT
Aron Roberts, Research IT
Anna Sackman, Library
Barbara Gilson, SAIT
Chris Hoffman, Research IT
Claudia von Vacano, DLab/DH@Berkeley
Cody Hennesey, Library
Dori Hsiao, Library
Jason Christopher, Research IT
Jean Fergusun, Library
John Lowe, Research IT
Lenore Kitts, Law
Maurice Manning, Research IT
Patrick Schmitz, Research IT
Rick Jaffe, Research IT
Stacy Reardon, Library

[See slides (PDF)]

In developing paper, tension between on-the-ground folks who wanted to talk about what software ought to be licensed, concrete elements ought to be put in place; but the ECAR/CNI team landed on a more organizational approach (there's plenty of concrete advice that's been written about; this group was looking to fill an unaddressed space).

Took about a year to develop this paper. All online interaction: phone calls (biweekly); drafting/editing cycles; publishing due later this month -- will be available to all right away due to CNI partnership (ECAR papers often embargoed to members only for ~1 year).

Key to do an "environmental scan" to meet scholars where they are already engaged.

DH relies on same infrastructure as sciences! (Network, computational resources, software, data storage, etc.)

Roles and capabilities: Technical Experts; Champions of Engagement; Content Innovators. See slide.


Claudia: Data Science vs. Digital Humanities --- is there confusion between the two, blurred identity? Quinn: not so much. Perceived as different things.

Patrick: Capacity model (fragmented; many less-coordinated parts; governance in place) doesn't address capacity in terms of number of people who can be served. What about capacity to serve numbers? Quinn: it maps pretty well, better organized correlates with being able to serve more people.

Claudia: Top-down vs. grassroots ... how does the institutional approach of the framework ECAR/CNI developed relate to grassroots efforts, e.g., by grad and undergrad DH groups? Quinn: Framework addresses investment, and how an institution ought to invest in staff, space, software licenses, programs, etc.

Claudia: seems that there may be some development this summer toward a more formal governance role / processes for the DH Council.
Patrick: relation to formal governance councils? Probably some membership overlap.
Claudia: will take as suggestion to explore these relationships as we transition into this summer's work

Claudia: Thinking of Berkley's multiple spaces distributed across campus (AIS, DLab, Library, etc.). Other models?
Quinn: have heard about dedicated single space, or multiple distributed spaces; didn't hear so much about spaces shared by different constituencies on the campus.

Steve: what will move institutions toward accepting DH work as consequential vis-a-vis tenure and promotion
Quinn: disciplinary orgs -- development of disciplines in this direction is key (AHA, MLA, and beyond)
Patrick: not just humanities; data science issue as well; interdisciplinarity as another aspect of scholarship not traditionally valued for T&P
Quinn: as more models, tools occur -- maybe 5 years down the line -- perhaps we'll see development in this direction

Patrick: Funding. Relation of overhead to infrastructure funding, and fact that many DH funders don't permit institutions to 'tax' grants (overhead)
Quinn: Not discussed much. Did discuss that for real development of DH, institutions need to invest.
Patrick: Governance bodies for DH can lobby administration for appropriate funding for infrastructure that benefits DH scholarship.

Stacy: What is key for Berkeley to develop institutional support for DH.
Quinn: Governance engagement...faculty lobbying.
Chris: To Patrick's earlier point, DH governance engaging with extant IT governance bodies could be an important step

Rick: the messiness of university governance, the individual-research focus of faculty ... how to get to the clean governance model that this paper seems to be recommending at a mature level?
Quinn: Will never be fully centralized ... innovation & outliers will still happen, as is the case throughout a university ... but most people won't be there, and what you don't want to do is weaken investment in common and broadly-needed technologies, such as GIS.

Patrick: faculty connection to domain > connection to department -- often happens -- certainly happens in certain DH communities (e.g., Near Eastern Studies); thinking about what role these strong disciplinary orgs that often cross institutional borders might have in this space
Quinn: more effective lobbying for what their discipline needs is one way to think about that; the groups that come together to make a compelling case for a broader group of faculty...
Patrick: how to leverage regional or disciplinary consortia to have an effect at an institutional level?
Quinn: Haven't seen that work in practice yet. Focus tends to be located deep in the weeds of a particular discipline (e.g., Egyptology). Perhaps because there's nowhere in the institution to address, nowhere that is making an effort to invest centrally.

Cody: Work with undergrads beyond course modeling?
Quinn: Not discussed so much. A little discussion about getting a certificate or a minor.
Cody: I think that probably speaks to the attention in DH at this time.
Patrick: DH faculty who can/will influence
Quinn: ~10 years until there's a sufficient cohort of _tenured_ faculty to move that dial from within the institutions. Very small number of specifically DH hires.


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